As the public concern about the pandemic Covid-19 outbreak ramps up, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) struggles to fight panic spreading through misleading and fake messages. Sick of rumours on the coronavirus outbreak on social networking site, the BMC Commissioner, Praveen Pardeshi on Saturday wrote to Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh, demanding stringent action against rumour mongers.
In his letter, Pardeshi stated the BMC is well-prepared and is doing everything possible on a war-footing to tackle the situation in the city but rumours are being spread on social media and social networking sites like WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook leading to panic among citizens.
From offering unverified home remedies to tackle the virus, to floating fake advisories asking people to avoid foods such as ice cream, eggs and chicken, and sharing conspiracy theories, cell phones are being flooded with misinformation, bogus messages and even fake government advisories.
As a wave of misinformation and rumour on COVID-19 are flooding phones, forcing the state government to take action.
The BMC chief has demanded action against such people under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act 2005.
“The Section 54 stipulates “whoever makes, compiles or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.
The BMC is working round the clock to ensure the cities is safe and to contain the number of cases.
These fake messages are spreading panic among citizens,” said a senior BMC officer elaborating on the Pardeshi’s letter to the city’s police chief.
Meanwhile, Harish Baijal, DIG, Cyber Security Maharashtra Police said, they are closely monitoring the content being shared on social media.
“Considering the pandemic world over (caused by coronavirus), I urge the net users to use social media with responsibility,” Baijal said.
In the light of fake messages doing the rounds on how to combat coronavirus, Baijal said people should consult only doctors or experts only.
He urged people to refer to information disseminated by the Union Health Ministry’s official website. An offence can be registered under the IT Act or Indian Penal Code against those who share objectionable content.