Those who created a statewide panic by spreading the fake news of death of 40 schoolchildren in a “bus accident” on Thursday near Rajouri will be put in jail under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
This has been announced by Rajouri deputy commissioner Shahid Chaudhary, who has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident and also asked the police to register a FIR and track down the culprits.
The fake news that spread like wildfire on the social media made the authorities alert the Indian Air Force and army for rescue operations. Men of the army, police and a dozen ambulances rushed to the place on the Moughal Road, where the ‘accident’ according to the social media report was purported to have happened, but found no trace of any mishap.
Within minutes the telephone and mobile network of the Rajouri district got clogged as hundreds of calls started coming to the police control room and other offices to enquire about the fate of the schoolchildren.
The IAF kept its helicopters ready to fly to the ‘accident’ spot to rescue the injured children to the medical college at Jammu.
However, it was a matter of relief when the district authorities were later informed that the school bus that carried the students for picnic had returned safe.
In the meantime, several mediapersons had flashed the report and the TV channels also aired it as “breaking news”.
The magisterial inquiry will be headed by the additional district magistrate of Rajouri.
Misuse of social media has been aggravating trouble in the Kashmir valley where about 300 sites were reportedly used for instigating the local youth against the army and para-military forces.
The government had blocked 22 social media sites a month ago but that has not helped checking spread of rumours as these sites were now being operated through the VPNs. Intelligence reports said that Pakistan was also using social media to instigate the Kashmiri youth.