New Delhi, July 19: In the past few months, we have seen how fake news on social media, especially on WhatsApp, has led to mob lynching in various parts of the country.
The mob violence has led to the deaths of many innocent lives. While all political parties have condemned the mob violence, very little has been done to curtail the flow of fake news on social media.
On Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi expressed anguish over the lynching of a Hyderabad man in Karnataka and said there seemed to be a sinister design to use the social media to "poison our collective conscience as a society" in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
The 48-year-old politician said he was deeply saddened by the tragic death of Mohammad Azam, who was lynched near Bidar in Karnataka on July 13 even as the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee, on his instructions, met the victim's family and gave Rs 2.5 lakh as a relief.
"The loss of an innocent life due to rumours fuelled by social media must be condemned in the strongest manner possible," Rahul wrote in a letter to Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N Uttam Kumar Reddy.
"In the run-up to the general elections next year, there seems to be a sinister design to use social media to poison our collective conscience as a society," he added.
The use of social media to target minorities and other marginalised groups needs to be exposed, he said.
"The use of this medium to largely target members of minorities and other marginalised groups needs to be exposed and fought against," the Congress president said.
Rahul asked Reddy to take up the issue at public forums, besides extending support to the family of the deceased.
"While this unfortunate incident occurred in Karnataka, we must step up our efforts to fight against such incidents in Telangana," Gandhi said in the letter.
As per his directive, a party delegation led by Reddy met Azam's family in Hyderabad on Thursday and gave them Rs 2.50 lakh as financial assistance.
"On behalf of the Telangana Congress party, we have a financial support of Rs 2.50 lakh," Reddy told PTI.
A social media video, wrongly identifying Hyderabad techie Mohammad Azam Usmansab as a child lifter, led to his lynching near Bidar on July 13, police had said. The TPCC president said his delegation assured Azam's family that the education of the child of the deceased would be taken care of.
Reddy demanded that strict punishment is meted out to the culprits and that the Telangana and Karnataka governments provide all support to the family of the deceased. A letter from Rahul was handed over to Azam's father, he added.
On Tuesday, social activist Swami Agnivesh was attacked and beaten up by suspected supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha in Jharkhand's Pakur district. The incident has left many shocked. At least 20 people have been arrested for beating the 78-year-old social activist. However, a BJP leader alleged that Agnivesh himself had staged the attack to malign the BJP and right-wing groups.