There are many incidents in the recent times of mobs who lynch people suspecting them to be child kidnappers. This phenomenon has now become pan Indian with the latest incident taking place in Assam where two tourists were killed for asking directions to locals.
One may not have imagined that one of the side effects of digital India to be as hazardous as it has become today. It is unfortunate that nowadays social media apps like Facebook and WhatsApp are being used as an instrument to bring disharmony and fear among communities by spreading fake news. The fake news menace has not only affected the rural areas but even urban megacities like Hyderabad and Bangalore. Fake videos of child snatchers are being circulated wildly and the direct consequence of these viral videos is that the non-native people are being targeted. Usually tourists who don’t know the native language are being singled out and killed as they are suspected. India has lost many innocent lives because of the fake news hazard and there is not one particular person whom this blame can be put on other than the illiteracy of people who spread and believe this news.
The most recent victims of deaths related to social media are Niloptal Das and Abhijeet Nath in Assam who wanted to know directions to a waterfall. They were lynched by a furious mob who believed them to be child snatchers after rumors were spread on facebook in the central district of Karbi Anglong. (source)
A few weeks before this incident, in May there were several cases where outsiders were put to death by furious mobs mostly in south India. In the state of Telangana, a beggar posing as a transgender was lynched suspecting him to be a kidnapper in Hyderabad (source). Another person who was found eating mangoes in a mango farm was also beaten up to death under the same assumption in Chengal in the same state. A man was also lynched in a similar manner when he had come to visit his relatives in Nizamabad and the locals mistook him to be a criminal (source). The neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh faced the same problem when a woman visiting Andhra Pradesh from bihar was trashed as she was suspected of being a child abductor as she could not speak in the native telugu language (source)
A 26-year-old man from Rajasthan was beaten to death in Bangalore after he was suspected of being a child kidnapper by locals (source)
In tamil nadu, there were two separate incidents of lynching related to the same rumors spread on WhatsApp. A woman was beaten to death for distributing sweets to children whom the parents mistook her for a kidnapper. In the other case, a north Indian man was tied and beaten to death as he was wandering the streets. The locals were warned to suspect immigrants from other places who might be behind their children. (source)
This is an alarming number of people who are have lost their lives due to misunderstanding of the locals who saw them as predators. Awareness must be spread among all people educating them of the dangers of spreading and believing any news they get through WhatsApp or other social media.
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