Social media rumour-mongers booked in Karnataka after youth found dead in lake | india news | Hindustan Times
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Social media rumour-mongers booked in Karnataka after youth found dead in lake

Rumours that Paresh Mesta, the youth who died, had been killed as a result of enmity between two religious communities had triggered tension in the district.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2017 14:20 IST
Vikram Gopal
All the posts were either made on WhatsApp or Facebook, said the district SP Vinayak Patil.
All the posts were either made on WhatsApp or Facebook, said the district SP Vinayak Patil.(AFP)

Karnataka police has started a crackdown on people allegedly spreading false information through social media and trying to stoke communal tension in Uttara Kannada district where a youth’s body was found in Honnavar town last Friday.

Rumours that Paresh Mesta, the youth who died, had been killed as a result of enmity between two religious communities had triggered tension in the district.

A series of agitations demanding immediate action for the death had turned violent in the last few days, with some miscreants setting fire to the official vehicle of inspector general of police (IGP-western range) Hemant Nimbalkar in Kumta town on Monday.

While the final post-mortem report has not yet been released and the cause of death unknown, the forensic team in response to a questionnaire sent by the police had rubbished suggestions that the youngster’s body was mutilated or that he had been burnt to death, as alleged in some social media posts.

The district’s superintendent of police Vinayak Patil said 106 persons had been identified for spreading false information, and they were in the process of registering cases against them.

While the situation was peaceful, police had started the crackdown on social media to try and ensure that such instances do not recur, he said, adding, “All the posts were either made on WhatsApp or Facebook.”

Nimbalkar said the persons were booked for trying to spark communal tensions under sections 153A and 505(B) of the IPC.

Home minister Ramalinga Reddy confirmed that he had given the order, saying it was necessary as rumour-mongering had become a serious issue.

“There is a clear attempt to make the situation tense in the district. It is there for all to see,” he said. “This is the reason it has become imperative to crackdown on such posts,” he added.

However, the government is yet to act against senior BJP leaders who had made the claims that are now considered rumours.

On December 8, the day Mesta’s body was found, BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje had said in a press conference that the youngster’s body had been mutilated, his face burnt with hot oil and that the skin around a tattoo on his right forearm had been cut using knives.

Reddy said he would speak with authorities and decide a relevant course of action.