Child Trafficking Rumours Lead to Lynching of 5 People in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh

A message on social media claimed that some real estate developers had defaulted on loans taken from Piramal Enterprises and its subsidiary Piramal Capital & Housing Finance (PCHFL).

Hyderabad: Panic and fear continues to grip districts across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. At least five people have been lynched and several have been beaten up in different districts in two Telugu states, following fake messages on social media.

For past many weeks, a message has gone viral on WhatsApp claiming members of Pardhi gang who are kidnapping children have entered Telugu states. The message also says the gang is killing children for their organs.

Two people were killed in separate incidents in Nizamabad and Yadadri districts of Telangana, after locals thrashed them, suspecting them to be child kidnappers following rumours on WhatsApp.

The man visiting Nizamabad was later found innocent. He was visiting the place to meet a relative. But when he failed to answer locals, he was beaten to death by the mob.

In Andhra Pradesh too, nine cases have been reported. Last week in Vizag, there were reports of people attacking strangers, beggars and people who did not know local language or failed to answer questions about their presence in that area.

Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana police have clarified there is no movement of any inter-state gang and there has been no case of kidnapping reported.

After increased incidents of mobs beating up people on suspicion of them being child kidnappers, police are conducting awareness campaigns across villages and appealing people not to believe fake messages and not to take law in their hands.

"Do not believe social media rumours of kidnappers and burglars. The news is totally false. Police are with you, feel safe. Please inform police in any case of suspicion and do not take law in your hand,” said Mahender Reddy, Telangana DGP.

Despite clarifications and advisories of the police, the rumours continue to spread fear among villagers. At night, villagers are taking turns to patrol the area to keep themselves safe and secured.