12/12/12 spawned a dozen hoaxes, but the one that was most hilarious kept people in the Valley up all night and the state government busy firefighting through the day.
The message, purportedly from NASA and the BBC, advised people to switch off their cellphones from 12.30 to 3.30 am on Tuesday as “cosmos rays are entering the Earth from Mars”. The message even warned people to keep away the cellphones from their body because “cosmos” rays are dangerous.
It triggered widespread panic.
People switched off cellphones and spread the word. “We immediately cut off power supply to the mobile tower in our premises,” said Naseer Ahmad, a resident of south Kashmir’s Bijbehara. Newspapers offices were flooded with queries.
Late on Tuesday night, the Kashmir’s divisional office issued a statement: “Don’t panic please. It’s just a rumour.” And when that didn’t work, “Spreading rumours and unsubstantiated warnings is unethical and against the law”.
Later, Amir Ali, spokesman of Kashmir divisional commissioner’s office, said, “People all around the world are receiving false messages attributed to NASA and BBC that cosmos rays are entering into Earth from Mars. It is clarified that neither BBC nor NASA has released any such news and it is a rumour.”