MUMBAI: Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, the BMC ward office in Dharavi is now battling to keep "fake news infodemic" at bay. At the time when the civic body is struggling to implement the rule of social distancing and isolation across Dharavi, the hard way, a video showing hundreds of Dharavi residents queuing up for food has gone viral across social media.
With hundreds of tweets and retweets, the video has become a cause of major concern not just for the residents and social activists but also BMC officials. This prompted the civic officials to issue a clarification stating that the video is an old one and is being used to spread panic in the city.
The civic body even circulated the same video with a scrolling message asking people to refrain from circulating the fake video linking it with coronavirus spread. "The video is of a food distribution event in Dharavi organised by a local corporator during the third week of March before the lockdown was announced. The food distribution event was organised for needy, where people thronged in large numbers. Police were called in to control the crowd. Some 'Anti-socialists' are continuously using this old video to mislead and misguide others leading to panic in the city. We appeal to the people to stop forwarding such unverified messages," Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner told the Free Press Journal.
However, by the time civic body issued a clarification, many had already circulated that video with their own versions and interpretation of the footage. While some have blamed Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, others used the video to blame PM Narendra Modi for imposing the "unplanned lockdown" forcing people to defy social distancing. However, none took the time off their busy tweeting schedules to verify the video.
This is not the first time that the BMC has struggled to bust rumours amid coronavirus scare. Sick of rumours on Coronavirus outbreak and fake pictures, videos on social networking site, the BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi last month wrote to Mumbai police commissioner Parambir Singh seeking his help to quell rumours. Following his demand for stringent action against those involved in spreading rumours and fake messages, Mumbai police's cyber wing initiated a drive against those circulating fake messages.
In a recent crackdown on those spreading fake and misleading messages on social media, the Maharashtra Cyber Cell registered 132 offences, of which 79 were related to WhatsApp, while those related to Facebook and Telegram were 24 and 23, respectively. As many as nine such offenders were booked in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, Dharavi on Thursday reported another death due to CoVid 19, taking the number up to 17 Coronavirus positive cases including three deaths in a week in Dharavi alone.