Unable to curtail the menace of fake WhatsApp rumours about child abductors and prevent lynchings in Vijayawada, the corporation has opted to relocate persons with intellectual disabilities to rehab centres.
The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation on Friday carried out a drive to identify such vulnerable persons, who might be susceptible to mob lynchings and sent them to rehabilitation centres. In its first drive the corporation identified nearly 80 people and relocated them to Amma Naana NGO in Hyderabad.
The corporation said that they will bear the costs of their treatment.
Speaking to TNM, President of Amma Naana Gattu Giri said, “The corporation approached us to identify persons with intellectual disabilities and provide them shelter due to the fear of mob lynchings. In the drive we identified more than 1000 people, but since we don’t have the capacity to shelter such a large number of people, we haven't taken in 80 persons who are extremely vulnerable and have brought them to our shelter in Hyderabad.”
Vijayawada Municipal Commissioner J Nivas said that hundreds of beggars and people who come to Vijayawada end up sleeping on pavements. “These people are now using the night shelters. But the disadvantage group, those who have intellectual disabilities, do not use the shelters. So we thought of providing them with treatment and shelter.”
According to the Commissioner, the corporation already has seven functional night shelters with a housing capacity of 400 people and 3 more shelters are nearing the stage of completion.
The Vijayawada Corporation followed the Hyderabad police model, where police asked transgender women to return to their native towns after a series of mob lynchings, including one which claimed a life in the city last month. The police further sought to ensure that beggars and homeless persons were not killed by violent mobs for such reasons and sent them to rehabilitation centres.
Fake messages circulating through WhatsApp allege that child abductors have entered the city and to be wary of strange individuals. Some of these messages even contain photos and videos.
So far at least 30 such incidents have been reported in the country, with a recent report emerging from Maharashtra where five persons from a nomadic community were bludgeoned to death by villagers on such suspicions.
In the past few months, many lynchings have come to light, the result of which the Centre recently has asked WhatsApp to create a mechanism to flag such hoax messages.
Union Minister of Information and Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that WhatsApp and government authorities should avoid the spread of such malicious messages and prevent mob violence.