The eight persons who were arrested in Nashik for spreading rumours were trapped after the cyber cell ‘social media wing’ stepped into action.
After the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl was reported in Nashik, rumours started to spread like a wildfire. People took to streets targeting police vehicles, pelting stones on police patrolling parties and even pushed a stationary truck and a bus on the police personnel. After the city and neighbouring areas came back to the normal state of affairs, the cyber wing started tracing the minds behind the rumour mongering.
“Each officer has been given one app to monitor. Officers discreetly collected information from sources in WhatsApp groups and managed to reach to the accused who had spread the rumours,” said a police officer privy to the investigation.
The police traced an entire chain of forwarded fake messages even before verifying it. “We traced the origin of the messages, after which the accused were nabbed. They invented incidents that did not occur,” said the officer.
The accused were arrested under Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (promoting disharmony) and were later released on bail. The internet services in Nashik have been completely restored while the police warned people not to spread false messages that would disrupt public peace and create a law and order situation.
An angry mob torched 20 vehicles in Nashik on last Sunday after a five-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by a 15-year-old at Talegaon in Trimbakeshwar, around 175km from Mumbai, prompting the state government to appeal to residents, seeking peace. The accused has been booked under the IPC and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.