In yet another incident of a rumour doing the rounds of messaging application WhatsApp provoking a lynch mob into action, Mohammed Azam Ahmed was beaten to death in Karnataka's Bidar on the suspicion of being a child-lifter
The nation woke up to another 'WhatsApp' shock on 15 July when a rumour circulated through the messaging application claimed an innocent life. The government, earlier this month, had warned of this trend developing. In the latest incident, an engineer from Hyderabad employed with Google was beaten to death in Karnataka's Bidar on the suspicion of being a 'child-lifter'. Three of his companions, including a Qatari national was grievously injured.
Mohammed Azam Ahmed, Noor Mohammed, Mohammed Salman and Salham Kubaisi had gone to Bidar for a social event, and had stopped for tea near a school in Murki village.
They saw some children passing by and shared sweets with them. This made the villagers suspicious. Soon, a rumour spread that a group of kidnappers were after the children of the village, and a mob started to chase Ahmed and his friends. The four sought to reason with the locals, trying to tell them who they really were, but all that was of no avail.
They tried to speed off in their car, but the villagers took their photos and circulated them. In the next village, people felled trees to block the road. Ahmed tried to drive around the barricade at high speed, lost control and the car fell in a ditch.
The four were dragged out by the mob, who started assaulting them. Around 400 people gathered had gathered by then.
Police arrived to stop the assault, but the victims were already bleeding profusely. Ahmed succumbed to his injuries, while the other three victims were rushed to a local hospital before being taken to Hyderabad.
Kubaisi apparently had brought chocolates from abroad which he was sharing with the kids.
Ahmned's brother, Akram, appealed to the government to stop mob lynchings. "My brother was the...father of a 2-year-old. He was just a regular guy," said Akram.
In a stern statement earlier this month, the ministry of electronics and IT asked the Facebook-owned messaging platform to prevent the proliferation of “irresponsible and explosive messages” that have the power to cause discord and violence.
According to reports, over 30 people have been killed by lynch mobs in the past year across 10 states after rumours of child-liftinig spread through WhatsApp.
Expressing its "deep disapproval", the government said that WhatsApp cannot be absolved of its accountability and responsibility to prevent rumour-mongering.
WhatsApp on its part shared the government's concern and stated that it was "horrified by these terrible acts of violence", and called for a joint and concerted effort by the government, civil society and technology companies.
Read Exclusive COVID-19 Coronavirus News updates, at MyNation.
Last Updated 16, Jul 2018, 10:27 PM