The Home Ministry of Maharashtra government is tracking concerted campaign by miscreants spreading fake news or rumours across various social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc to create panic and dissatisfaction among people.
One of the more worrying speculations that have been spreading even while India is in the grip of one of its worst public health emergencies due to the coronavirus pandemic is the about a complete lockdown of Mumbai and other cities to be enforced by deploying the army. The messages also ask people to hoard maximum provisions like vegetables, grocery and milk for this period.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday reiterated that this is wholly and completely fake news.
“First of all, I want to underline that as the Home Minister I am fully confident of the Maharashtra Police's wherewithal and capabilities in tackling any emergent situation. I exhort citizens not to believe such messages or share/forward them as this unnecessarily compounds panic in society. The Maharashtra government is committed in its battle with COVID-19 and has been open in its communication with citizens on policy decisions with regard to combatting the pandemic,” he said but warned, “The spread of such rumours can attract penalties and punishment under the provisions of both the IT Act and the IPC. The Maharashtra Cyber Department is actually looking closely monitoring this issue and has already initiated action against the rumour mongers.”
An enquiry by the Maha Cyber Department found that 12 main user IDs on various social media platforms have been spreading this rumour/fake news from May 8 till date. Maha Cyber has already mailed notices in the form of a legal warning under CrPC Sec 149 to users of such handles to refrain from circulating fake news in the future. The platforms like FB, Twitter, etc have also been asked to take down these posts and suspend the accounts of miscreants who have been identified.