HYDERABAD: Who would not like to have a discount on pending bills that run into thousands of rupees? The happiness would be even more if it is a flat 50 per cent discount and that too on e-traffic challans that attracts a chargesheet by police. Guessing it to be a one-time offer, denizens lined up at Goshamahal sports complex, but to only realise that the offer was fake.
It was happiness short-lived for many, as the information based on which hundreds of people thronged the traffic police station was actually fake news that was doing rounds on WhatsApp and web news channels. The widely circulated message that spread like wildfire has been doing rounds for three weeks now. The message read: “Hyderabad Traffic Police will conduct Lok Adalat on December 23 at Goshamahal so please check your vehicles pending challans, drink and etc. Pay only 50 per cent.”
Several motorists, car owners, and even taxi drivers circulated the message to their friends’ circles and whoever had pending traffic challans anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 reached the venue with a hope to clear their pending dues, but faced the reality only when they reached there.
“We witnessed a message is going viral on social media that there will be a traffic Lok Adalat on December 23 of this month. Hyderabad traffic police inform all citizens that the message is fake news,” the notice pasted today outside the Sports Complex read. (sic)
Many traffic violaters returned without paying the challan. Md Amjad Khan, for instance, came all the way from Shaheen Nagar in Chandrayangutta to clear his due of 7,000. “I have been waiting to clear my pending dues and save `3,500. Who would not want to miss out on such discounts,” he said.
Another Syed Ahmed from Falaknuma said, “It was not just WhatsApp messages that made us believe but mobile web news channels further propagated it. We were made fools by miscreants who should be caught and put behind bars so that this kind of incidents doesn’t repeat.”
The number of persons who were trickling at the Goshamahal was steady all through the day, but it was during the morning hours that heavy rush was witnessed.
‘No plans for such discounts in future’
Traffic DCP-II K Babu Rao said: “It could be the work of a few miscreants. We have already posted about the message being fake news on Facebook”. When asked if the department plans to give such discounts, he said they have no plans as such.