Lucknow, Jan 30: Social media is a double-edged sword. If on the one hand, one can use the medium to disseminate information, on the other hand, it can spread rumours like wild fire.
Uttar Pradesh resident Rahul Upadhyay has been caught in the web of fake news after social media declared him dead in the recent communal violence that rocked Kasganj in the state. Days after the virtual world declared him dead; Rahul came to tell his story.
"I am absolutely fine," Rahul told reporters. "One of my friends informed me of rumours on social media about me getting killed during Kasganj clashes. But I was not present in Kasganj at the time of riots. I had gone to my village," Rahul added.
One of my friends informed me of rumours on social media about me getting killed during #KasganjClashes, but I was not present in #Kasganj at the time of riots. I had gone to my village. I am absolutely fine:Rahul Upadhyay, the news of whose death was doing rounds in social media pic.twitter.com/ENj14gDbaW— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) January 30, 2018
Since Rahul was not in Kasganj at the time of violence, obviously there was no question of him getting killed during the clashes. Even the "fake news" made headlines in the mainstream news outlets which reported about Rahul's death without verifying it.
The 24-year-old man runs a small news outlet himself in Kasganj. Rahul said that false news of his death was used to further instigate violence by those having sinister designs to divide people on the basis of religion.
So he approached the police and the district administration to tell that he was "very much alive". The authorities asked Rahul to meet as many journalists as possible to debunk the theory of his death already propagated in various mediums.
According to rumours, Rahul died along with Abhishek Gupta in the communal clashes in Kasganj on Friday. The violence started after a march to mark the Republic Day.
During the Friday clash, Hindus and Muslims pelted stones at each other and gunshots were fired. Abhishek (22) died in the violence. The next day saw a second spate of violence during which several Muslim-owned shops were gutted in retaliation to Abhishek's death, said police.
UP Govenor Ram Naik on Monday termed the Kasganj communal clash as a "blot" on the state and asked the government to initiate measures to ensure such incidents did not recur.
As many as 112 people were arrested and security forces personnel intensified vigil in the strife-torn Kasganj in western UP.
As far as Rahul is concerned, he has been receiving regular congratulatory notes for being "alive". Others say he has become famous now. Rahul, on his part, is simply relieved that he has been able to clarify about the fake news being spread by social media "warriors" with the motive to divide people on the basis of religion.