Friday 1 July 2022
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35 WhatsApp groups banned for spreading fake news, 10 arrested

The government issued a number 8799711259 for WhatsApp fact-checks, the home ministry said, while police arrested 10 people for rumour-mongering and instigation

The union government today banned 35 WhatsApp groups for spreading news on the Agnipath recruitment scheme and Agniveers, the Ministry of Home Affairs said. Police arrested 10 people on charges of rumour-mongering and organising protests.

The union government has issued a number 8799711259 for WhatsApp fact-checking, the home ministry said. The crackdown comes amid reports of social media platforms particularly WhatsApp being used for mobilising protests in states like Bihar which has witnessed incidents of train bogies being torched.

Forward any message you feel is suspicious to 8799711259 and add the question: ‘Is this true?’

While suspending internet services in 12 districts till today on 17 June, the Bihar government had said that the internet was being used to transmit objectionable content in order to spread rumours with an intent to incite the public and cause damage to life and property.

The district administration in Patna said that the information collected from the mobile phones of arrested protesters pointed to the role of coaching centres.

The Telangana Police arrested the owner of a coaching institute in Narasaraopet town of Palnadu district in Andhra Pradesh for allegedly instigating the youth to participate in the protests against the scheme. The detained coaching institute owner Avula Subba Rao is accused of having created a WhatsApp group called Hakimpet Soldiers which comprised hundreds of army aspirants. In this group, he had allegedly sent messages to all the members asking them to take part in the protests.

Amid the protests, the union government has made it clear that there will be no rollback of the scheme for recruitments to the for a four-year tenure. On the issue of vandalism and arson, the defence ministry said that those accused in violent protests will not be recruited. The aspirants will have to submit a written pledge stating they didn’t take part in the protests. The pledge will be verified by the police.

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