WhatsApp forwards injurious to lives

Cops arrest 14 in Saturday night’s mob lynching incidentlIncreasing instances of mob justice comes up as a new challenge for police dept.
Illustration: Amit bandre
Illustration: Amit bandre

HYDERABAD: The city police, who have arrested 12 persons on charges of murder and two journalists for spreading fake news, say the mob attack on crossdressers was a consequence of fake news being spread among the public. The scribes work for web channels and they reportedly spread fake videos and messages with an intention to damage peace. 

Police say the crowd was extremely angry with the crossdressers and did not even allow the officials to mediate. “They did not allow the policemen to talk and started showering blows on a few,” says constable Ravi. “Though the police tried to pacify the mob, the situation went out of control. About 1,500 people gathered at the spot and started screaming in anger, giving a call to kill the alleged ‘kidnappers’. It was only after a lathi charge that the mob left the spot. By then, four persons had received bleeding injuries.”

The four injured included the two crossdressers who were there on the spot with the victim who died, and two other friends who rushed from nearby streets hearing the commotion. Chandraiah, who was killed, hailed from Devarakadra village in Mahabubnagar district. “The victims were begging on the road when the incident happened,” says South zone DCP V Satyanarayana. 

“Within six minutes of receiving an alert, the police team reached the spot, but the mob had killed one person and injured others.”Speaking to Express, one constable claimed that he met the crossdressers near a signal at around 10pm. “We warned them not to go into those bylanes as rumours of kidnapping gangs moving around the city were rife. But the trio was confident of getting handsome amounts as alms, saying that the people there had always been kind enough to them.”As part of community policing, the police had installed three cameras on the main road near Azeem Hotel. One of the cameras was pointing towards the scene of the crime. However, when teams visited the spot to collect information, they realised that none of the three cameras were functional. 

“The cameras were installed only a week ago and they are yet to be given power supply,” said a local resident. However, several denizens have captured the incident on their cell phones and police are now solely relying these visuals to capture members of the mob. The cops are actively asking public to share any such visuals with them, which might help them crack the case. “Earlier, three Biharis were attacked at Madannapet based on similar rumours,” pointed out Satyanarayana. “Even then, there was fear among public caused by such messages.”

‘It could’ve happened to any of us’
Chandramukhi Muvvala, a transwoman and member of Telangana Hijra Samithi condemned the Saturday incident. She said the deceased was not a transperson, but a cross dresser. “Chandraiah may have not been a transperson, as anyone in the State, who identifies him/her self as a transperson registers with Telangana Hijra Samithi. This person was not registered with us,” she said. However, he was killed because he wore a saree, she said and added that it could have happened to any of them. “It could have happened to me. They are individuals who resorted to begging as per reports. How can someone be killed for something like that?” she questioned.

sinister design at work

May 18, 2017: Seven people were beaten to death in two incidents in Jharkhand after fake WhatsApp messages claimed that children were being targeted by abduction gangs
April 2018: Two men in Tamil Nadu killed by mobs in separate instances after fake WhatsApp messages about child kidnappers started doing the rounds
May 20, 2018: One man was killed by a mob at Vizag, Andhra Pradesh after fake WhatsApp message about a gang of beggars posing as child kidnappers started doing the rounds.
May 23, 2018: Two men in Telangana were killed by mobs in separate instances after fake WhatsApp messages about child kidnappers started doing the rounds.
May 24, 2018:  A 26-year-old man was beaten to death in Bengaluru by a mob that mistook him for a child kidnapper
May 24, 2018: A man with mental health problems was beaten up in Hyderabad over rumours that he was a member of Pardhi gang, a gang of interstate dacoits

No kidnapping gangs: top cop
Speaking to media, city police commissioner Anjani Kumar assured there were no kidnapping gangs on the prowl in the city or in any other parts of the State. “The public is requested not to take the law into their hands and cause damage to the lives of others. “Some people have vested interest in creating a panic situation in the city. They have been identified. The public have to cooperate with the police and inform if they find any suspicious person, but not attack or injure them,” said the commissioner
“We have planned a strategy to fight the menace of fake news. The social media monitoring team is able to trace the location of origin of the false videos and messages. Patrolling will be increased during late nights and local communities will also be involved in creating awareness. Schools, colleges and parents associations will be informed about the happenings and are asked to not get infuriated and panicked about the kidnapping gangs. The city police assure you safety,” said Anjani Kumar
About 1,200 police personnel would be on patrolling duty in the city at any given point of time. As many as One lakh cameras are being used to track the suspicious movements and other illegal activities. Around 150 blue colts and 600 patrolling cars are also on duty to ensure the safety of the public, officials added

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