Two killed in a day as fake WhatsApp messages about child trafficking create panic in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu was in a state of panic on Friday after unfounded messages circulating on WhatsApp, asking people to not trust immigrants as they are part of a child trafficking group, went viral. Reportedly, two people have lost their lives in less than 24 hours, after being suspected of being child traffickers.

File photo of the Tamil Nadu Police . Image Courtsey: IBN Live

File image of the Tamil Nadu Police. IBN-Live

In the first case, a mob beat a man to death and hung him from a bridge in Pulicat on Wednesday on the suspicion that he was a child trafficker. Police launched an investigation and secured at least 20 people who were part of the mob. Preliminary enquiry revealed that the mob attacked the man as they thought he was a North Indian and had entered their area to kidnap children, said the police.

In the other case, a 63-year-old woman Rukmani was lynched by a group of villagers in the Tiruvannamalai district while she was travelling to the suburbs of Tiruvannamalai with her relatives to pay a visit to her family deity. Four of her relatives also suffered injuries and are undergoing treatment at a hospital. Police officials have rounded up at least 30 people and have charged them with murder.

Another man named Sanjay, a migrant from North India, was tied to an electric pole and thrashed brutally. Upon investigation, police found out that he too was a victim of the paranoia.

SP Pagalavan, superintendent of police, Vellore, told CNN-News 18, “People fear that their children may be kidnapped and to make them believe that such WhatsApp messages are false, we have formed police teams and are travelling to villages and asking people to not believe in false messages.”

In the Tiruvallur district, a transgender person was attacked by locals merely on suspicion for being a child trafficker. Near the Andhra border, many districts have witnessed brutal attacks on northern immigrants for suspected anti-social activity.

Sreedhar, inspector-general of police, South Zone said, “Without any evidence, people spread WhatsApp messages. Not all WhatsApp messages are true. People should not believe such forwards and take law in their own hands.”

The police, meanwhile, has recognised the alarming effect of these messages on the general public and awareness drives are being organised across the state.

According to a report by The News Minute, in Vellore, Pagalavan has dispatched autorickshaws with speakers to announce messages to the public and a similar method has been adopted in Kancheepuram too. Police officers travel in these autos, asking people to not panic and turn violent if they suspect that someone could be a child abductor.

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Updated Date: May 12, 2018 12:21 PM

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