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False WhatsApp Messages Create Panic in Tamil Nadu, Claim Two Lives in Last 24 Hours

Unfounded messages circulating on WhatsApp, asking people to not trust immigrants as they are part of child trafficking group, have led to paranoia in Tamil Nadu and claimed the lives of two innocent people in less than 24 hours.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:May 11, 2018, 12:59 PM IST
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Chennai: Unfounded messages circulating on WhatsApp, asking people to not trust immigrants as they are part of child trafficking group, have led to paranoia in Tamil Nadu and claimed the lives of two innocent people in less than 24 hours.

A mob beat a man to death and hung him from a bridge in Pulicat on Wednesday on suspicion that he was a child trafficker.

Police have launched an investigation and have secured at least 20 people who were part of the mob. Preliminary enquiry revealed that mob attacked the man as they thought he is a North Indian and has entered their area to kidnap children, said police.

In another such case on Wednesday, Rukmani, 63, was lynched by a group of villagers in Tiruvannamalai district. Four of her relatives suffered injuries and are undergoing treatment at a hospital.

Rukmani was travelling with her relatives to the suburbs of Tiruvannamalai to pay a visit to her family deity.

After the darshan, Rukmani's car stopped at a village and Rukmani started handing out chocolates, procured from abroad, to children in the vicinity. On the suspicion that she was luring the children with sweets, enraged locals mounted a brutal attack on her. She later succumbed to her injuries.

Rukmani’s relative told News18 that the mob didn’t even give her a chance to be heard and attacked her.

“They should have thought that if one gives chocolates, it doesn’t mean that she is going to be a child trafficker. After this incident, I’m scared to step out,” said Rukmani’s relative.

Police officials have rounded up at least 30 people and have charged them with murder.

These are not the only two cases of lynching.

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

Pagalavan, SP, Vellore, said: “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 Tiruvallur district, a transgender 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, South Zone, IG 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.”

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| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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