Three persons were arrested in Hyderabad on Thursday for posting fake messages on social media about missing persons, triggering rumours of "kidnapping mafia" active in the state.
The Cyber Crimes Police Station of the Detective Department arrested Venkat Gurijala, Kranthi Kiran Naidu and Balraju, who, in the name of 'Telangana Yuva Synyam', created the rumour.
The police on Wednesday had registered a suo motu case about viral posts on social media, to the effect that the number of missing complaints in Hyderabad has been increasing day by day and "nearly 82 people went missing in Telangana within just 24 hours on Saturday (8th June)". The police said these posts were creating alarm in the public and it is likely to induce the general public to commit an offence against public peace.
The police also appealed to people not to believe such rumours and also if they receive such 'forwards', they should delete them immediately.
"Forwarding of such fake posts and rumours is liable for punishment under law and hence general public should not forward such posts which will cause panic and alarm in general public," said Avinash Mohanty, Joint Commissioner of Police, Detective Department.
The fake messages on social media were triggered by reports in a section of vernacular media that 540 missing cases were registered in Telangana in first 10 days of June.
The police top brass has claimed that the data with regard to missing persons was twisted to give a sinister interpretation. Officials said there was nothing to panic as the figures were not unusual and that 222 of these cases were already solved.
A fact check done by TNM also shows that the number 546 isnâ€™t unusually high. In 2016, a total of 16,134 persons (including children) went missing in Telangana, which is 44 people per day on an average. Moreover, there are a couple of factors behind the rise during the months of May and June.