Police say that the photograph being circulated is that of an accused in an ATM theft case
A photograph and a voice message have been doing the rounds of WhatsApp groups, causing parents of young children to panic in Tamil Nadu.
This picture was accompanied by a voice message from an unidentified person. The voice message in Tamil translates to —
“The police have arrested the people in this photograph two days ago. A 200-member gang has arrived in Tamil Nadu from Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. They have confessed that over 200 people have come here.
They have come here only to kidnap children. Please be alert during the summer season especially when you take your children to beaches, circuses and parks.
Of this 200-member gang, only 10 people have been caught by the police. I have got the news that a number of people are being questioned over this.
This is a voice message being shared for awareness. Please do share this with everyone. Watch over your children.
If you see anyone from other states, please ensure that you inform the nearest police station or people you know and be careful of them.
Only if we are alert we can keep our children safe. The kidnappers are very clever and do not have humanity. Keep that in mind.
Only we can protect our children. Share this WhatsApp message and photo with your friends. As far as possible let us be careful. Thank you.”
When contacted, Chennai city police commissioner AK Viswanathan clarified to The Lede that the forward was fake. He stated that the photograph of the arrested person was that of one Zubair, who was arrested in Namakkal in connection with a case of an ATM broken into in Coimbatore. The policeman in the photograph is Constable Ganesan of the Namakkal district police.
“We request people not to believe in fake messages of child kidnappers from north India that are doing the rounds of WhatsApp and social media,” Viswanathan told The Lede. “We also request people not to forward such fake messages and cause panic. Tamil Nadu police is always available to ensure the safety of children and people of Tamil Nadu. Please contact the police in case of any concerns.”
Subsequently the police also released a message in Tamil with the photograph asking people not to believe in fake WhatsApp forwards.
In 2018 over 20 people were lynched and killed in India over suspicions of kidnapping children when a similar forward had done the rounds of social media and WhatsApp. Almost all of those who were attacked or killed were found to be innocent of the alleged crime.