AP: Fake WhatsApp Forward Of Child Kidnappers Takes Life Of A Man, Five Critically Injured
Separate incidents of mobs beating individuals on suspicion of child kidnapping have emerged from Telangana & Andhra Pradesh. In Vishakhapatnam alone, 12 people were thrashed by a mob after suspicion of them being child kidnappers. One person has lost his life, five others are critically injured. This happened due to a fake WhatsApp message being circulated in Telangana and Andhra.
The message has gory images and explicit visuals of young men and women and bodies of children along with the text that a notorious Parthi gang was kidnapping children. The message says that members of the notorious gang are kidnapping children in the middle of the night to harvest their organs. This message is accompanied by grotesque images. These messages coincided with the disappearance of a young girl from Doddahalli village in the night.
Last week, on Wednesday morning, Rema Rajeshwari, Superintendent of Police of Jogulamba Gadwal district arranged an awareness campaign across the district to stop this fake news menace. The rumours that were being spread in the villages of Gannavaram, Bapulapadu and Unguturu mandals have now spread to urban cities too.
A supermarket clerk was lynched to death by a mob in Visakhapatnam after people found him to be moving around suspiciously. He was not a Telugu speaker. Acting swiftly, the police arrested three people for killing the unidentified man.
In another incident which was reported in Kancharapalem, a lady identified as Bewathi Begum was thrashed after people suspected her of being a child lifter. They found Rs 1.75 lakh cash in her bag that raised suspicion.
In the meantime, Visakhapatnam city police commissioner T Yoganand has urged people not to believe in the fake messages that are being circulated and confirmed that there has been no instance of kidnapping in the last 15 days.
Source of the message
It turned out the message was first forwarded by a teenager in Utkuru village in Alampur mandal. He said that he received the message and forwarded it to others. On identifying that it was fake news, local police officials counselled the teen and arranged an instant awareness campaign in the village, reported The News Minute.
Speaking to The News Minute, SP Rema Rajeshwari said, “We are working on finding out the source of these messages. At present, we have sent teams to border areas of the district as the messages are in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi as well.”
She also said, “Through our interactions with the locals, we found out that people are being carried away by visuals and photographs rather than text since many cannot read.”
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.