Ahmedabad (India) – India's police on Wednesday urged people not to believe the false rumors circulating on WhatsApp in the aftermath of a violence of aggression, where a woman died in this country where "false news" is experiencing increasingly tragic results.
False reports of hundreds of smugglers of children landing in Gujarat triggered five attacks on Tuesday in several cities in western India. The frequency of such cases has accelerated lately in this South Asian nation, which in its modernization adopts massive digital means of communication.
Awareness of aggression has even pushed Gujarat's security forces to initiate an appeal: " May not be worn by false messages or rumors on social networks and does not attack anyone due to suspicions ".
WhatsApp is an extremely popular communication channel in India and rumors spread without control, which sometimes leads to lynchering. Hysteria provoked by putting together so-called " kidnappers " has already claimed life for at least 22 people in a year, according to the Indian press.
Tuesday night in the great Gujarat city of Ahmedabad, persuaded to deal with one of these threads ", a crowd of hundred people followed a beggar of forty five, Shantadevi Nath and three women with her.
" People in the crowd beat the four women with their fist and feet, some hit them with sticks and pulled them in the hair and caused serious damage to Shantadevi while three others were only injured ", told AFP: s policy JA Rathwa.
Rescued by a police in charge of traffic, the victims were taken to the hospital where Shantadevi Nath was named dead.
The same virus message that traffickers arrived in Gujarat in large numbers to kidnap children to sell them caused four violent disruptions the same day in this industrialized region.
In Surat City, a man-dominated crowd forced a 45-year-old woman and her baby to the police station. His prosecutor said the kid had been kidnapped … but proved to be his daughter.
" Both were taken to the police station where it was revealed that it was the mother's daughter and they had come to town to attend a family event ", a local police chief told the Indian media.
Deadly rumors are not a new phenomenon in India, as in many other countries in the world, but their emergence is facilitated by the acceleration and democratization of digital means of communication.
Using the price war of mobile operators, social networks now penetrate into the most remote villages in India. Owned by Facebook, Whatsapp messaging has more than 200 million monthly active users in this giant of 1.25 billion inhabitants.
"" Everyone uses WhatsApp and it's the best platform for sending + false news + nowadays because mobile internet costs almost nothing and everyone in India has access to smartphones "told AFP Pankaj Jain on website SMHoaxSlayer.
In front of this villain, experts require information training and proper use of online platforms, but rumors are often taken for granted by local media with little regard for accuracy.
The encryption of WhatsApp messages, as the founders of the network wanted to protect users' privacy, make it almost impossible to track the source of the rumor.
The Indian Police " should respond to these messages with prompt clarification and they should use all anti-information platforms " of this type, "said Nikhil Pahwa, editor of the MediaNama website.
But for Jency Jacob, the factual control organization BOOM, " the technology does not blame properly ".
" People do not trust politicians and the judiciary so rumors about kidnappers get land and lynchings happen – it's a complicated social problem and WhatsApp and other networks reinforce the message. "
burs-amd / cr