One year…since we failed ourselves as a civilized society. Justice for Abhijeet and Nilotpal is still a far-fetched dream. The families and close friends are broken, still trying to gather what they have gone through in the past one year.
While we all wait for justice, we as a society could not rise up as we still indulge in fake news, false propaganda and take everything that has been forwarded to us through the social media as gospel truth.
In the last one year, we have seen a number of agitated crowds up in arms against people who may or may not be at fault. Rumours and fake propaganda have claimed more lives than we can imagine.
Today, as Abhijeet and Nilotpal look down on us from above, the silver lining is the increased awareness against spreading of rumours and a better policing on the internet.
A year back, when the police had to tame the number of fake viral videos, they were not present in these platforms! How can you control such messages if you are not present? One year hence, we have seen the police campaigning against various social evils – through the medium which earlier was left as it is.
Before the fateful night of June 8, 2018, multiple reports said that fake videos were doing rounds across places, especially through WhatsApp and Facebook. A better lookout on the same could have controlled the crowd anger. Today, the mechanism at place is stronger. The police are better equipped; the society has learnt its lessons, but how?
The menace of fake news has grown so big that the medium itself has been questioned multiple times in the past one year. Facebook and WhatsApp, especially, had to come up with initiatives to control the problem that led to loss of lives across the world.
Facebook made a number of changes to their news feed. Information like page history, administrator origins etc are readily available now. Besides, spam and fake news reports are being strongly scrutinized and acted upon these days.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp had to go through many changes due to severe public and government pressure. The one-to-one encrypted messaging platform made multiple changes to their groups. Forwarded tags and better group administration settings were introduced. WhatsApp also went ahead with a print media campaign to fight against fake news.
We as a society are learning. While a lot of progress has been made in the last one year, we still come up with news of lynching and mob violence that may have a fake news angle to it.
As I look for a silver lining today, probably my friends from above may have been saying: Please don’t kill us, again.
Sound engineer Nilotpal Das and his businessman friend Abhijeet Nath were lynched by an agitated mob in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on June 8, 2018 on suspicion of being child lifters. The duo had gone to the picnic spot Kangthilangso in Karbi Anglong to capture the sounds of nature.