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Sunil Tripathi,missing Indian student,wrongly identified as Boston bomber

Sunil Tripathi was wrongly identified on social media websites as one of the suspects.

In the hours before the police revealed the identities of the two Chechen brothers suspected to have carried out Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing,several families went through extreme emotional trauma,their young members having been identified on websites,publications and social media as the perpetrators of the attack.

Reports — all unconfirmed and vaguely quoting “police” — were proved wrong as Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his elder brother Tamerlane were identified.

Foremost among them was Indian-American student Sunil Tripathi,who had been missing since mid-March. Tripathi was Friday wrongly identified on social media websites as one of the two suspects responsible for the Boston Marathon terror attack.

The social media and part of the mainstream media was abuzz with rumours that 22-year-old Sunil,who went missing on March 16 and they have still not been able to find him,was the “possible suspect”.

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Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted on the rumours,saying “In spite of the Sunil Tripathi fiasco social media users will still believe in a God given gift to tweet/post first & confirm much later”.

The rumour started Thursday evening after the Boston police and the FBI released videos of two suspects,soon after which the social media became abuzz that one of those in the video was Sunil.

Sunil’s name and picture began floating around the Internet,as Reddit and other social media sleuths mused whether the missing student could be a suspect.

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The word “possible” was later dropped on social media sites and Sunil became one of the “suspects” at large.

The nightmarish ordeal of the Tripathi family came to an end only after the Boston Police identified and named the two Chechen brothers as the suspects in the twin blasts. “The last 18 hours have generated tremendous and painful attention — on social media platforms Facebook,Twitter,and Reddit,as well as from television media inquiries — linking Sunil to the video stills released by the FBI yesterday afternoon,the family said.

First published on: 20-04-2013 at 02:54 IST
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