Indian Mob Lynches Another Man Over Fake Whatsapp Messages

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“My son had begged the assailants to spare him and had even tried to reason with them but the people had a pre-mediated design to kill.”

 

 

In yet another lynching incident, a Google engineer was brutally beaten to death over false WhatsApp messages in India.

Mohammad Azam, along with three of his friends including Qatari national Salham Eidal Kubaisi, Noor Mohammed and Mohammed Salam, was attacked by a 2,000 strong mob sparked by false Whatsapp messages that accused them of child abductions.

The 32-year-old lived in the city of Hyderabad and was travelling back from Karnataka state’s district Bidar after meeting a relative. A series of rumors on the messaging app warned people that a child kidnapping gang was on the loose.

While the four men were on their way back, they stopped midway and distributed chocolates to school children that Kubaisi had reportedly brought from Qatar out of affection. However, one of the children started crying.

That is when things took an unexpected turn.

With mounting rumors of child abductions circulating on Whatsapp, people got alerted after the child cried and were sure the men were child kidnappers. However, the men succeeded in running away but by then the village had already alerted nearby areas and shared their pictures and videos via Whatsapp messages.

As the men ran a few miles away a larger mob attacked them. Their car flipped and fell into a ditch and that is when the men were dragged out of the car. They were then brutally beaten with sticks and pelted with stones.

During the time, two police officers arrived at the location and attempted to save the men but they too got injured in the course. As a result of the brutal lynching, Azam lost his life at the spot and his friends were severely injured.

Police later arrested 30 people in connection of the killing and is reportedly looking for more suspects.

Now the family of the deceased is demanding answers.

“I demand strong punishment to the accused persons so that a message is sent to people who fall prey to such rumors. My son had begged the assailants to spare him and had even tried to reason with them but the people had a pre-mediated design to kill,” said Azam’s father, Mohammad Osman.

The engineer’s brother, Mohammed Akram, said his brother was Google engineer and his appearance made it evident that he wasn’t a child abductor but he still became a victim of the rumors.

Azam’s case is the latest in the strings of lynching attacks that have been the result fake WhatsApp messages. More than 20 people have been victims of such fake messages.

In May, six cases of such killings were reported to the police.

A 55-year old woman was lynched in Tamil Nadu after she was seen giving sweets to local children, a man in Andhra Pradesh was fatally assaulted for not speaking local language Telugu, a man in Telengana was killed for allegedly entering a mango orchard at night while another man in the same state was lynched while visiting his relatives.

Similarly, a man in the city of Bangalore was beaten to death with cricket bats and a transgender woman was murdered in Hyderabad.

WhatsApp is widely used in India with nearly 250 million active users. It is widely used as a tool to disseminate political messages in the country – particularly during the elections. It means people are more inclined to believe and share whatever material they receive without bothering to verify its credibility.

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

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