In Tripura, three cases of mob lynching after locals fell for rumors about child-lifters have given sleepless nights to police.
As authorities are trying to contain rumors, a statement by Education and Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath endorsing locals' claim that kidneys were stolen from a local child, has added to their woes.
Nath's statements have snowballed a controversy of sorts.
After the death of a local minor, people in Tripura went frantic. They attacked police for inaction and fell for rumors.
The situation was fuelled further when Nath visited the child's family and said 'the kidney was taken out of the boy's body after making a round cut.'
One hawker, an unidentified woman and a man hired to spread awareness against rumour-mongering were lynched.
Turns out, Nath also fell for local whispers; in reality, no organs were harvested from the deceased's body. Chief Minister Biplab Deb confirmed the same in the assembly.
But by then, a video of Nath speaking about child lifters and an 'international hand' in the 'smuggling' had been already widely circulated.
To limit cases of mob lynching, the police are doing their best.
Senior CPI(M) leader Gautam Das called for Nath's resignation and held him responsible for rumors. "Nath should bear full responsibility and resign. Otherwise, he should be sacked," he said.
Congress called Nath 'the pioneer of rumour-mongering'.
On the government's decision to suspend internet services, a party spokesperson said, "The government is creating more fear among the people."
"Thousands of people who had gathered said that the kidneys were taken. There would have been an outburst had I said the opposite. My comments that night were to ventilate the sentiments of the family of the victim," Nath said to defend himself.
The Tripura police have started meeting locals of cities and interior areas to advise them against believing such rumors.
The suspension of internet has helped, they said. The police also counselled some teenagers who posted and forwarded such messages.
The police have arrested eight in connection to the deaths, and hope the extensive outreach program will help restore normalcy in the state soon.
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