New Delhi:Several fake social media videos and messages containing similar themes of outsiders stealing children have claimed 14 lives across the country since May 20 despite police warning people not to believe in such rumours.
Scores of incidents of locals thrashing “suspicious-looking” innocents have been reported from different states in the past month or so. Lynchings have been reported from West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha in the past two months.
The latest victim of this frenzy gripping the country was, ironically, an activist hired by the Tripura government to create awareness among people about viral social media messages targeting outsiders. Most such social media posts target outsiders, branding them as kidnappers, often referred to as child-lifters.
Sukanta Chakraborty was hired by the Tripura government after a couple of incidents in which outsiders were attacked in remote areas of the state. His death on Thursday afternoon shows how difficult it is for authorities to convince locals not to believe in these baseless child-lifter rumours.
Tripura director general of police Akhil Kumar Shukla blamed social media for the fear-mongering among villagers in remote areas, which is difficult for them to check.
“We have asked people not to believe in such rumours and are running an awareness campaign,” he said.
Gujarat police have said that the video being circulated on WhatsApp and other social media was shot by a Pakistan-based NGO Roshni Helpline to create awareness against child-lifting. Police believe that the doctored Pakistani videos seemed to have been circulated in many parts of the country including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka also.
Director general of police M Mahender Reddy of Telangana had appealed to people to not believe in such fake news and warned them against taking the law into their own hands.
“If you find someone suspicious, please inform police. We will find out and initiate action on those who are spreading these messages on social media,” he said.
Most state police departments have issued similar appeals saying that not even a single child kidnapping case has been reported from the places where the dozen-odd lynchings have taken place.
State police departments have also asked their cyber cells to monitor social media messages and asked internet service providers to get them deleted. “The problem is once the message gets viral it is difficult to check it. If people stop believing in such messages, the problem can be handled,” said Odisha DGP RP Sharma.
Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs
Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.
“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.
This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.
According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.
Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara
Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.
The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.
“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.
Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.
With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.
Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.
However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.
The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.
The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.
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