The epidemic of fake messages has gripped social media. WhatsApp primarily, which is accessible to almost everyone today has been the cause of spreading so many rumours. The situation has turned worse when people's lives are in danger. The forwarded fake messages about child traffickers are turning into barbaric acts of lynching people. Another incident was reported in Bengaluru, where a 26-year old Kalu Ramu was lynched to death by an angry mob mistaking him for a child-lifter. 14 people which include 4 women and 2 minors have been arrested in connection with this lynching.
Kalu Ramu was seen as a threat to the children by the people of Anjanappa Garden in Chamarajpet, when he was allegedly distributing chocolates and sweets to a few children. The panic-stricken people on mere suspicion beat him to death. The videos of this beatings are also forwarded on social media. A similar case of mob assaulting two other men in the same area took place but police reached the spot and were fortunate to save them. People on the basis of 'assumption' have killed the supposed suspects.
The rumours about child trafficking have been circulating on the messaging service for some months now. It has even prompted parents to stop sending their children out, creating an atmosphere of fear among everyone. The messages have graphic content showing dead children and blood, causing great fear among the people. Earlier this month, a similar incident of death by lynching took place in Tamil Nadu. On May 10, a 65-year old woman was mercilessly beaten to death and just about hours later, an aged man of about 50 years was murdered and hanged in Tiruvallur district. In both the cases, the fake WhatsApp message was the real culprit.
Such horrific incidences only seem to rise and the police are trying to crack down on the people responsible for spreading these rumours. The message that has been passed along blames 'north Indians' roaming around to kidnap children. Exactly a year ago, a similar incident occurred in Jharkhand last year when 7 people were lynched after a fake message spread about them being child traffickers was passed along. The videos and images of the attacks are also passed along to cause more tension and fear. Along with WhatsApp, Facebook was also used to spread these. Tired of WhatsApp Forwards? Messaging App Testing New Feature to Stop Fake And Spam Posts
With the reach of social media being far and wide, the incidents are now gripping the South of India. Something just passed on in the name of warning/awareness is now responsible for murders in the country. It is high time we look into the fake news or the fake messages seriously. A constant urge to recheck the facts about any such message received on WhatsApp or shared on Facebook. The police are also planning to create awareness about these fake messages through pamphlets and speaker announcements. People taking things into their own hand rather than approaching the police first is the bigger part of the problem. Most of the people just join in without knowing what the case is. Along with the awareness, a strict action against the mob who have been till now responsible for such deaths is also necessary. As an active and responsible citizen with access to social media, it should be our duty to not forward such messages without any confirmation and if you are at the receiving end of these, make sure you educate the sender as well.