Social media and WhatsApp groups have been carrying several warning messages about “kidnappings or attempted kidnappings outside many schools in the city”, and this has prompted schools to issue warnings to parents and students to be careful. However, according to police, the messages appear to be fake and no kidnapping incident has been reported by any school.
At St Helena’s School, an announcement was made in the school assembly, warning students not to speak to strangers. Olive Das, secretary of St Helena’s School, admitted that such a message was conveyed by the school management to the teachers, who then told the students. “We got an anonymous phone call and the caller told us that at least 4-5 incidents have taken place in the city and schools are being targeted. As a precaution, we saw it fit to urge our teachers and students to be careful…,” said Das.
The forwarded messages claimed kidnappings took place at St Anne’s School in Camp as well. While Principal Sr Sylvia was not available for comment, parents of students confirmed that they had received similar messages. “When we contacted the school, they told us it was a fake message and a school in Mangalore, with a similar name, had faced an issue some years ago, with the same message,” said one of the parents.
While no such incident took place at Bishops School, Undri, local police paid them a visit nevertheless, said CEO and Principal Frank Freese. A parent said, “My daughter’s dance class has put up a notice with details of the forwarded message,” said a parent.
Senior Inspector Sunil Pawar of the Cyber Crime cell of Pune City Police said, “In the past, these messages have proved to be nothing but rumours. We know that parents are concerned and send messages with the right intention, but these lead to rumours. We urge people not to post, repost or forward anything that has not been verified.”