Transgender woman killed by mob in India because of fake child trafficking rumours

A transgender woman was killed by a mob of angry locals on Saturday in India because of false rumours linking her to child trafficking.

The victim was hunted and killed by a mob, while three other women were wounded in Hyderabad, southern India, after fabricated claims accusing them of trafficking spread through the area via WhatsApp.

The falsely accused women were attacked by angry locals on Saturday night, reports CNN.

A police official told CNN that the women were begging in Hyderabad when they were attacked by the angry mob.

“They were begging for money from some shopkeepers in Chandrayanagutta at 11 p.m. when some unruly youths started saying they had come to kidnap children,” said deputy commissioner V. Satyanarayana.

About 20 people took part in the attack as a crowd of roughly 200 watched, encouraging the attackers to keep going.

12 people have been arrested on Sunday following the incident.

According to Satyanarayana, the rumours, spread via WhatsApp, went viral in the area, prompting the attack. According to the messages, transgender women were plotting to kidnap children in India.

“For the last 15 days in India, especially in the Telugu-speaking states, a lot of rumours on WhatsApp and other social media have been shared about gangs kidnapping children,” Satyanarayana said.

Such myths have been debunked by authorities. Pictures of dead children were shared on social media along with the kidnaping rumours, but the police said they had been taken in Syria.

Indian transgender activists take part in a protest against the Transgenders Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 at Dharna Chowk in Hyderabad on August 26, 2016. (NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty)

“These mischief mongers are intentionally circulating such messages to create panic in the minds of the public,” Satyanarayana said, adding there was no evidence that a child trafficking gang operated in the region.

Police warned locals against believing these rumours and produced a public service announcement explaining how fake videos/photos were created.

However, some of the population still seem to take the rumours at face value. The Hyderabad victim is the sixth person to be killed following rumours about the child trafficking ring.

Just a day before, a man suffering from mental illness was stripped and beaten to death with pipes and sticks in Pahadishareef, in the same region. A rumour had also spread on WhatsApp that he was linked to the kidnapping gang.

On May 20, a farmer was killed and seven other injured following a similar attack triggered by the same rumours.