Public outrage is sometimes necessary to wake the conscience of the government but only with the right intentions. Recently, the news of rape and murder of the eight-year-old girl from Kathua invited huge public outcry.
With some BJP Ministers, Hindu Ekta Manch and Jammu Bar Association protesting to protect the rapists, there was massive shaming of the accused by people all over the country. Many posts were shared on social media with the names and pictures of the alleged culprits who mercilessly raped and killed the little girl.
While it is good that the collective conscience of the nation was woken up and calls for justice grew louder, an innocent was wrongly shamed because the picture that was supposed to be of Vishal Jangotra, son of the main accused Sanji Ram is not him.
This is neither Vishal Jangotra nor Pravesh Kumar Mannu. His name is Vishal Sharma, a resident of Kathua.
Who is Vishal Sharma?
Vishal Sharma is a 22-year-old from Kootah village in Kathua. He runs a canteen in a school. He was terrified when his photo was circulating on Facebook and Whatsapp. Firstpost reports that even his relatives called up to verify the truth. Social media posts have tarnished his image and he received a lot of hate messages too.
His father, a daily wage labourer, said, “The crime has been committed by other persons and my son is being punished. His life has been ruined as he has been tagged as a rapist in a picture that is circulating across the country. People are looking at my son with suspicion.”
Vishal has deactivated his facebook profile and had locked himself in his house because of the massive public shaming. He has sought to file a complaint with the local police station. They have referred him to the cyber crime cell and asked him to immediately report the photo on Facebook. That way they will be able to identify the real culprit who shared his photo in the first place.
Creating or sharing fake news is never justified. We have a responsibility to verify everything that we post on the internet. To ensure that our national debate is healthy and well-informed, each and every one of us has a responsibility of treating what we read with a pinch of salt, a spoonful of doubt, and a flood of research.