TIRUVANNAMALAI: A 29-year-old man was arrested on Friday, for spreading rumours about child traffickers through WhatsApp. According to Anakkavoor Police, The arrested was identified as Veeraraghavan R, a mason. He posted a video in WhatsApp said a group of North Indians were roaming around in the district for kidnapping children.
A resident of Rice Mill Street of Purisai village in Cheyyar taluk of Tiruvannamalai district, the accused shot a video using his mobile phone in which he had claimed that two children were kidnapped from Parasur village, the police said.
The accused also claimed that another child was kidnapped from Uthiramedu village and a group of north Indians had kidnapped another child from Vinayagapuram in Cheyyar. The video also showed the accused advising people to take care of their children and asking viewers to share the video to “save our children”.
The video was allegedly uploaded in WhatsApp on May 2 and it was further shared on Facebook. One of the viewers shared it on Facebook which was viewed by more than 3 lakh users and shared more than 1,700 times.
Police suspected that the sharing of false information on social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp had triggered a spurt of violent mob attacks on innocent people in recent times.
It was on last Wednesday, a 65-year-old woman was beaten to death and four other people were brutally assaulted by a mob after they mistook them for child traffickers.
Talking to Express. Cheyyar DSP M Gunasekaran said “None of the incidents, which Veeraraghavan talked about in his video, were true and they did not take place in Tiruvannamalai district.”
After the mob violence in Athimoor village, the police began searching for messages that spread false information and zeroed in on Veeraraghavan on Friday.
Veeraraghavan was booked under Sections 505 (making, publishing and circulating rumours) and 507 ( criminal intimidation by anonymous communication) of Indian Penal Code.
In connection with the lynching of a man at Pazhaverkadu on Wednesday night, the Tiruvallur police conducted inquiries with 15 people.
Meanwhile, a man was attacked at Ponneri on Thursday. Police arrested two persons Saranraj and Mahendran in connection with the incident.
The victim Lakshmanan, a native of Odisha and a private company employee at Ponneri, was at a bus stop when he was attacked. Police said Lakshmanan was standing at the bus stop after the day’s work when the duo who came on a bike questioned him.
“Simply because he spoke a different language they assaulted him and he fell unconscious. They then handed him over to a group of locals who splashed water on him and beat him,” said a police officer.
On information, Ponneri police rushed to the spot and rescued the victim. He was later sent to Government Hospital, Ponneri. Later, Saranraj and Mahendran were arrested.
“We are regularly monitoring the streets and have placed informers around the villages so as to let us know if there is any such incident. We use auto rickshaws, bikes and even posters to inform people not to believe rumours,” said a senior police officer in Kancheepuram.
He added that people believed whatever was spread in the social media and this was more with youngsters who went to schools. Parents and other elders in the community tend to have faith in the youngsters in the village since they were familiar with technology and believed them blindly.
A press release from Kancheepuram police said 11 persons were arrested for beating to the death a north Indian on April 28 at Chinnaiyan Chatram.
3 Lakh views, 1,700 shares
The video was allegedly uploaded in WhatsApp on May 2 and it was further shared on Facebook. One of the viewers shared it on FB which was viewed by more than 3 lakh users and shared more than 1,700 times.