Kolkata: Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have asked the general public to applaud the doctors and caregivers at 5 pm when Janata Curfew was on. But weeks later people who applauded the doctors working round the clock during the COVID-19 pandemic break out are using social media to spread rumours about the doctors.
Take the instance of Khan Imran, who took to Facebook to warn people from visiting Bright Street Area, in Kolkata’s Park Circus area. Imran alias Emy, wrote on his FB wall, “Avoid going to Bright Street Area as Dr Mustaq has returned with Corona positive, after a patient having symptoms of high fever recently returned from Canada visited him. His family has been kept in isolation and the chamber has been sealed by police! (sic),” on March 27. The post, when eNewsroom last checked his FB profile, seems to be deleted.
The same message around the same time was doing the rounds in the WhatsApp messenger of people residing near Park Circus area. Given the fear that most of the people are living in, those knowing Dr Mustaq Ahmed kept calling him either out of concern or to confirm the news.
Speaking to eNewsroom, Dr Mustaq Ahmed, said, “It’s sad to see people spreading rumours about doctors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The other day I saw a similar rumour being spread about some doctor working at the Beleghata ID hospital. Suck reckless people need to be booked and punished.”
In a bid to debunk the rumour, the doctor even released a video to clear his stand. He even lodged a formal complaint with the Karaya Police Station, in which he wrote, “ I want to bring to your notice that some unknown miscreants are running a false malicious campaign on various social media platforms that I have been infected with COVID-19. I want to make it clear that I am absolutely healthy and have been restricted to my residence honouring the lockdown imposed by the government.”
As indicated by Dr Ahmed, in the rumour propagation case involving a Beleghata ID hospital doctor, a lady called Chandrima Bhowmik has been arrested by Kolkata police for spreading false information. The matter was highlighted when the concerned doctor’s wife took to Facebook to debunk Bhowmik’s post in which she wrote that Dr Jogiraj, the medical officer at Beleghata ID hospital was detected to be Corona Positive. In the same post, she was seen reprimanding the errant public who were venturing out during the lockdown. She even held them responsible for the doctor’s alleged condition.
With the case involving a doctor working for COVID-19 patients, the rumour came to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s notice, who has now instructed the detective and cyber department to be alert.
Muralidhar Sharma, Joint CP Crime, when contacted said, “Yes, we are aware of such rumours being spread. Strict action will be taken against those spreading such rumours.”
Given the scare that the pandemic has created in people across the world, it is making people circulate news without cross-checking during the lockdown. eNewsroom came across another fake news which credited the Indian Army of creating a 1000-bed quarantine facility in Barmer, Rajasthan. Given the speed with which this news became viral even prompted ADG PI- Indian Army tweeted, “A fake input is circulating on social media that #IndianArmy has established a 1000 bed quarantine facility in Barmer. This is untrue.”
As responsible citizens, this lockdown period needs to be utilised responsibly. Posting information related to COVID-19, or sharing such posts without confirming, is not a responsible act and might have police landing at your doorstep. Be safe, post safe!