Pregnant woman beaten over child kidnapping rumour

Members of All India Students Association (AISA) hold placards as they protest against the mob lynchings in the country, at Parliament street, on June 22, 2018 in New Delhi, IndiaImage copyright
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A pregnant woman has been beaten by people who suspected her of kidnapping a child in the Indian capital Delhi.

Police told the BBC that the woman, 25, was in a stable condition and that three people had been arrested.

It is the latest incident in a wave of attacks fuelled by rumours of child kidnapping in the capital and neighbouring states.

Last year, a similar spate of attacks saw several people beaten and killed over rumours of child kidnappings.

Footage of the incident shows the woman surrounded by a group of people. They can be heard accusing her of kidnapping children and beating her.

The highest number of such cases has been registered in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which borders Delhi.

“At least 46 cases have been reported until 29 August. In all cases, we found that there was no evidence of child trafficking,” director general of police OP Singh said in appeal on Twitter.

“We appeal to the people to not believe in such rumours. If you are in doubt, just reach out to the police through phone [dial in number 100] or social media,” he added.

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Media captionThe India WhatsApp video driving people to murder

In Ghaziabad district, which is on the outskirts of Delhi, six cases were registered in August.

“In one case, a group of people attacked a grandmother while she was out with her grandchild. People attacked her because her skin colour was different to her grandchild,” senior police officer Neeraj Jadaun said, adding that all suspects in the case had been arrested.

While incidents like this are being reported across India, it is not clear if kidnappings are on the rise.

Rumours of child kidnappings often spread over text messages or WhatsApp, according to reports.

Officials have urged people not to believe messages linked to child abductions and are yet to find any incidents of child abduction related to the spate of messages and videos being shared online.

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