Indian police have arrested 16 people after two men became the latest victims of hysteria over WhatsApp rumours of child kidnappers.
The men had stopped to ask directions in north-eastern Assam state when they were beaten to death by a large mob.
Rumours of child kidnappings are spreading across India over WhatsApp, and have already led to the deaths of seven other people in the past month.
Police say it is proving hard to debunk the messages on social media.
The two latest victims have been identified as Nilotpal Das, an audio engineer and Abijeet Nath, a digital artist – both residents of Guwahati, the largest city in Assam.
Police say the pair were attacked when they stopped at a village to ask for directions. Residents reportedly believed they were “kidnappers” they had been warned about on WhatsApp.
“When rumours start circulating on social media, it takes some time to stop them completely,” senior Assam police official Mukesh Agarwal told BBC Hindi’s Dilip Kumar Sharma, adding that police were watching various social media sites to try to stop the spread of the messages. Officials elsewhere in India have urged people not to believe messages linked to child abductions.
April: A man in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is beaten to death by a mob after he is seen aimlessly wandering the streets
- A 55-year old woman in Tamil Nadu is lynched for giving sweets to children; police arrest 30 people
- A man in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh is lynched for speaking Hindi and not the local language, Telugu
- A man in neighbouring Telangana is killed by a mob while entering a mango orchard at night
- Another man in Telangana is lynched when visiting a village to see his relatives
- A man in the southern city of Bangalore, who had moved there recently, is tied up with rope and beaten to death with cricket bats
- A transgender woman is lynched in Hyderabad
June: Two men are lynched in north-eastern Assam after stopping their car to ask for directions
SOURCE : bbc.com/news/world