Police in Mizoram capital Aizawl have launched an investigation into who spread what has turned out to be false rumors alleging a gangrape and murder in a city neighborhood.
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.
“We received many calls beginning around 6 pm inquiring if what was being said on social media was true. Some of us had even gathered together. It caused quite a stir in the locality,” said Vanlalfela, vice president of the locality’s Young Mizo Association unit.
Vanlalfela and other local leaders decided, after they realised the “news” was a hoax, to file a complaint with the police.
Police have registered an FIR under IPC section 203, which deals with the spread of wrong information, and section 66(A) of the IT Act. A senior officer said no arrests have been made by the time of filing this report.
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.