Even as hoax WhatsApp messages are leading to mob violence across Telangana, the Wanaparthy police have arrested two people – both minors – for allegedly spreading hate messages against three people in their village. In Manajipet Mandal of Wanaparthy, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old were arrested for allegedly spreading hate messages against three youth.
According to the police, the two minors sent out photos of the trio with a message that said that these three people were trying to kidnap children. A voice note that was sent with the photo also said that if anyone spots these men, they should kill them immediately. This WhatsApp forward was widely circulated in local groups and led to panic.
One of the men whose photo was being circulated approached the police to take necessary legal action against the boys for spreading these hoax messages and for instigating people to kill him.
Wanaparthy SP Rema Rajeshwari said, “The message went viral and created panic among people. The situation would have been bad if these people had been found by those who believed the forward.”
The Khillaghanpur Sub-inspector of police has registered a complaint under section 7(I) Criminal Law Amendment Act-1932 (intimidation), 504 IPC (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) and Sec 67 of the Information Technology Act (transmitting obscene material) and took up the investigation.
The investigating authorities have collected evidence from the phones of all stakeholders, and from local WhatsApp groups. The two accused were produced before the Chairperson of the Juvenile Justice Board, Child Welfare Committee, Mahabubnagar.
The district SP, Rema Rajeshwari also said that a massive public outreach campaign against spreading of fake and unconfirmed message is ongoing in both Gadwal and Wanaparthy districts. The police are using the ‘Dappu’ to annonce in villages that people should not believe such fake messages.
Shairpally village in Undavelly mandal.— Rema Rajeshwari IPS (@rama_rajeswari) May 27, 2018
Tom Tom to gather the villagers to educate them about social media rumours. pic.twitter.com/syYGZFfa8m
Earlier, in Kurnool of Andhra Pradesh, two juveniles were arrested for spreading fake 'pardhi' gang messages.
While dealing with whole fake message panic is itself a big challenge for the police, the involvement of minors has raised more concern.
Rema Rajeshwari said, “We usually giving counselling to youngsters who forward such unconfirmed fake messages with graphic images, but in this case, the minors themselves manufactured the message with the complainant’s photos, thereby putting their life at great risk.”
As the mass hysteria over fake social méssages are becoming a threat to law and order, the SP appealed to the people not to believe in such rumours.