After it was established beyond the shadow of a doubt that the whole affair was nothing but a false rumour, it is now the turn of the social media to come under the scanner. The unsavoury episode will be long remembered, not for what actually did not happen but the insensitivity of residents of the hill state who sent messages about the "incident" to each other on Facebook or WhatsApp.
While the mainstream media was slammed for being "silent" on the "gangrape of a woman" and police and government officials accused of "trying to hush up the matter", no one bothered to confirm the messages that were posted and shared. What could be more cynical than people posting photos of an accident victim presenting her as a "gangrape victim" while others went a step ahead by even sharing many names without realizing the repercussions or whether the law permitted it.
Messages and posts alleging the "victim" was in a critical condition and her uterus was removed in a hospital during treatment were enough to blow the rumour out of proportion as the incident was likened to that of the 'Nirbhaya' incident.
Even as the police urged the public not to share any news that had no factual basis, the messages continued to be passed accusing involvement of relatives of a local leader who is a cabinet minister. Some even found the "victim" had died at the Indira Gandhi Medial College, Shimla, others at PGI, Chandigarh.
Even when the police were busy clearing the air about the incident, it was shared the "victim's" body was taken to
Dharamsala and protests were intensified.
Meanwhile, the police said they were trying to trace the people from whom the messages originated. "It's just a matter of time. The most stringent action will be taken against those who spread the rumours. The episode has tarnished the image of not only the town, but also of the state," Kangra superintendent of police Sharma said.