People stage a silent protest demanding to arrest and punish the culprits involved in the killing of two youth on the suspicion of being child abductors in Karbi Anglong district of Assam, in Guwahati on June 11, 2018.(AFP)
People stage a silent protest demanding to arrest and punish the culprits involved in the killing of two youth on the suspicion of being child abductors in Karbi Anglong district of Assam, in Guwahati on June 11, 2018.(AFP)

Around 40 arrested for spreading rumours of child lifting gangs in Assam after mob lynches 2 on suspicion

Police said more than 70 people were let go after being counselled and made to delete content they had posted on social media pertaining to the matter. Most the of those arrested were younger than 30 years.
By Sadiq Naqvi | Hindustan Times, Guwahati
UPDATED ON JUN 12, 2018 01:50 PM IST

At least 40 people have been arrested across Assam so far for spreading rumours about child lifting gangs and hate messages on social media platforms in the aftermath of the brutal lynching of two young men in Karbi Anglong last week, Assam Police said on Tuesday.

More than 70 other people were allowed to go after counselling and making them delete their objectionable posts, police said, adding that most of the arrested are less than 30 years old.

In the lynching case, the police have arrested 25 people. Many others suspected to be part of the mob which attacked the duo are on the run.

In addition to them, police in Karbi Anglong have arrested six people for recording the ghastly act on their mobile phones and circulating it. However, some more involved in circulating the video are absconding, the police said, claiming that there are at least three different video clips of the incident.

On June 8, Nilotpal Das, a Goa-based artist and his friend Abhijeet Nath were lynched by a mob in Panjuri Kachari village on suspicion of being child lifters.

Assam has been buffeted by a spate of rumours on social media platforms like Facebook and messaging apps like WhatsApp in the last few days with fake photographs of child lifters. The rumours have led to many attacks including the ghastly killings in Karbi Anglong.

A fake Facebook profile in the name of Guwahati police commissioner Hiren Chandra Nath was reportedly used to spread hate messages and fake news prompting Assam Police to issue a clarification that the senior official is not active on social media.

“We have been receiving a lot of support from the general public where people are coming forward, scanning the social media sites and sharing objectionable posts with us,” a senior official said familiar with the matter said.

The Assam Police has also announced a WhatsApp helpline for people to share information about objectionable content on social media.

As the protesters took to the streets on Monday, demanding justice for Das and Nath, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal announced an awareness programme called Sanskar to fight superstitions.

With Assam Science Technology and Environment Council as the nodal agency, the programme will cover all deputy commissioners, superintendents of police, elected representatives, civil society and journalists in all districts.

Sonowal, in a conversation with the fathers of the two victims informed them about the programme, the government said in a statement.

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