Over the past few days, mysterious black stickers have cropped up on windows and walls of houses in the southern districts of Kerala, sparking panic among residents.
The police have launched an investigation to ascertain the cause behind the appearance of these stickers.
The black diamond-shaped stickers were spotted on the corners of the windows in houses predominantly in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Thodupuzha. They were first spotted in Thiruvananthapuram.
News about the appearance of these stickers began to spread on social media after people began to suspect that it was the work of child trafficking groups. Word began to spread that the stickers were to identify houses with children in them.
â€śThe stickers were spotted in my fatherâ€™s room. Sometimes, my daughter sleeps in that room with her granddad. At first, we didnâ€™t pay much attention to it, but then we remembered the post on Facebook and checked once again. Thatâ€™s when we saw that these were the same black stickers pasted on two corners of the glass,â€ť Sunitha, a resident of Eroor junction in Kochi, told Asianet News.
However, Kerala Director General of Police Loknath Behra spoke to the media and assured the public that the all the police control rooms have been alerted and the stickers are being sent for forensic examination.
â€śWe are going to examine those stickers. I have given special instructions to the South Zone ADG and Trivandrum IG to take the matter seriously. There is no need to panic. We are looking into the incident,â€ť Behra told Asianet News.
The DGP also confirmed that the incidents have occurred in the southern districts of Kerala.
â€śNothing has been reported until now in the north,â€ť he said.
The incidents which generated hysteria among residents also caught the attention of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who took to Facebook to allay fears regarding these black stickers.
â€śRange IGs have been tasked with investigating the mysterious sticks that have appeared on the windows of houses,â€ť the post said, adding that the CM spoke about this in the Assembly too.
â€śAs soon as the news caught the attention of the government, the DGP was informed and he further alerted all police control rooms, cyber cells and police station,â€ť the post also said.
The CMâ€™s post also confirmed that the stickers were found in certain houses in Alappuzha, Idukki, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram.
â€śNot only are such concerns being investigated, the police are also working to curb the spread of terrifying messages,â€ť the post added.
This is not the first time that cryptic symbols and markings have appeared on houses in Kerala. In 2016, Pathanamthitta SP, Hari Shankar IPS, took to Facebook to warn people about the symbols used by thieves to mark a house before a robbery attempt.
He asked people to wipe off any symbols on compound walls or pillars as they are an indication that the house is under observation for robbery. The symbols included rating the house as a â€śgood targetâ€ť to â€śnothing worth stealing fromâ€ť.