January 15, 2015 6:04:34 pm
Police in Mizoram capital Aizawl have arrested a 22-year-old woman accused of spreading false news about a gangrape and murder through the Whatsapp messaging service.
Home Minister R Lalzirliana has meanwhile urged residents of the state to exercise caution when it came to spreading apparent news items on social media sites and messaging applications, saying unverified news reports often spread like wildfire.
According to IGP Zorammawia, at least 50 cases of misuse of such communication channels – including sending offensive messages and pictures – have resulted in police cases being filed, two dozen of them in the past year alone.
Aizawl SP C Laldina said Thursday Ruth Chalthansawmi of the city’s Saron Veng locality was arrested and charged with spreading false information.
Rumours that seven men had gangraped and killed an unidentified woman in the Tuikhuahtlang locality began spreading on Whatsapp and other social media on Tuesday evening, quickly escalating to the point local leaders and police were kept on their toes trying to confirm if the incident did take place.
The accused, the SP said, has told police she had composed the “breaking news” message as a “joke” she shared in a group of about a dozen friends and that it must have leaked from there although she later posted in the same group it was only meant as a joke.
Police began investigating what turned out to be false rumors after locals registered an FIR.
The rapid spread of information about incidents, especially tragic ones, across Mizoram through social media has sometimes led to various law and order problems in the state.
Last week, thousands had gathered at the crime scene within the hour of a murder, some among the crowd turning violent as they demanded the suspect be handed over to them. In that incident, pictures of the victims’ bloody bodies also spread rapidly across the city as well as through the state.
In another recent murder case, pictures of the victim’s decomposing body also spread rapidly on social media.
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