The Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Director Generals of Police on Thursday warned of strict action against those attacking anyone on the suspicion of being a child trafficker. The move comes in the wake of attacks spurred by fake news and rumours circulating on social media about gangs of child kidnappers roaming around in the villages.
While two people were lynched in Jiyapali and Nizamabad in Telangana on Tuesday night, at least nine people have been assaulted in the last 24 hours in Prakasam, Guntur and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh. Police have issued several warnings against circulation of rumours. “Despite creating awareness among people not to believe such rumours and inform police on finding anyone suspicious, people are taking the law into their hands,” an official said.
Telangana DGP M Mahender Reddy and Andhra Pradesh DGP M Malakondaiah have appealed to people not to take the law into their hands. “We will take stringent action against such people. These are rumours that gangs of child kidnappers are moving in the state, don’t believe them. Don’t beat up people,’’ Malakondaiah said.
Two people of the four who were assaulted in Guntur are in a critical condition, officials said. “Instead of taking the law into your hands, inform police. Police is with you, you are safe,” Telangana DGP Reddy said in his appeal. While police are conducting awareness drives, villagers have formed groups to keep vigil in neighbourhoods. “If they encounter anyone who is new to their area or is not giving proper answers, they are beating them up. Beggars, migrant workers, who cannot speak the local language, have been attacked,” an Andhra Pradesh police officer said.