65 arrested in Assam after youths lynched over fake news
by Nirmala Carvalho

Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath were suspected of kidnapping children. Authorities ask 70 other people to delete fake news and fake videos from mobile phones and social media profiles. In the last month, at least seven people have been assaulted across India on unfounded charges.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Assam authorities (East India) have arrested 65 people for the lynching of two alleged kidnappers. The crime stems from the spreading of fake news about a gang of kidnappers. About 40 people were arrested for spreading the false news. Another 25 have been brought to prison as the material authors of the crime.

The incident occurred on June 8, when Nilotpal Das, an artist from Goa, and his friend Abhijeet Nath were encircled and beaten to death in the village of Panjuri Kachari. The two young men had stopped by car to ask for directions, but the villagers believed they were foreigners involved in child trafficking.

Fake news and edited videos went viral on online messaging platforms like WhatsApp leading to the brutal murder. In India, the spread of fake news has triggered a  craze against alleged child abductors. This is why the mere presence of foreign people, unknown to the local population, or who do not speak the regional dialect has led to the lynching of at least seven innocents in the country over the last month.

The authorities denounce the speed of the circulation of fake news on social media and how difficult it is to curb its propagation. Therefore, the Assam police asked at least 70 people questioned in the case of the lynching of the two young people to delete videos and other fake content from their mobile phones and social media accounts.

The forgers also targeted the authorities: some hackers created a Facebook profile in the name of Guwahati police commissioner Hiren Chandra Nath. Through his page they spread hate messages. The police were forced to issue a note stating that the policeman is not active on social media.