50 girls kidnapped! I've heard it from my dad's friend's son's aunt

If 50 kids had been kidnapped in a week in Clifton and Defence wouldn't ONE have made into all the newspapers?

Salima Feerasta March 09, 2013
Have you heard? There's a rumour epidemic in town. On March 6, when random firing broke out all over the city, the rumour mill went into overdrive.

As the afternoon progressed we saw petrol pumps and shops closing, firing around the city and tales of an indefinite strike. There were traffic jams as people rushed to get home and grocery stores were packed due to panic buying.

This was all fact.

What caused it all was something of a mystery. SMS, phone lines, WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook were abuzz. Sure, people wanted to make sure loved ones were safe and warn friends to stay safe but suddenly all sorts of stories were floating around -- most of which were pure nonsense.


For example, at various times on March 6 I heard:

- Farroq Sattar shot

- No, wait that’s Farooq Sattar attacked, not sure of injuries

- Afaq Ahmed's brother kidnapped to be shot

- Grand Operation against terrorists started

- Actual target of operation MQM which is why MQM is closing everything down

- Sabzi Mandi on fire

- Dawn News repeatedly transmitting that 50 children have been kidnapped in the last week from posh schools in Clifton and Defence

- A black SUV is roaming around Clifton and Defence since the last few weeks and kidnapping and raping women while filming the whole process for blackmail purposes

- Two girls kidnapped in plain view outside cafe on Zamzama

Of all of those, only the Sabzi Mandi fire story checked out and even that seems to have had no sinister cause - apparently it was caused by a short circuit.

The last three stories were particularly pernicious because they've been doing the rounds for a few days. The head of Dawn TV laughed at the suggestion, they'd transmit such nonsense.

Most people passed on the message without checking with Dawn. Also, think about it - if 50, that's right FIFTY, kids had been kidnapped in a week in Clifton and Defence wouldn't ONE have made into all the newspapers?

The black SUV story has been terrifying women drivers for the last week. Everyone knows a friend of a friend who's been followed. It’s with the cafe story however that the "friend of a friend" really starts causing trouble.

So we hear yesterday that two girls have been kidnapped outside a popular Zamzama cafe. Some disbelief exists so we phone the cafe. All they confirm is that the cafe is closed and that's all they know. They refuse to comment on reports of firing on Zamzama. We decided that this sounds very dodgy.

Meanwhile, a friend says that her friend's student's mum was in the cafe at the time and heard shots and that the guard had said that two girls were kidnapped in front of witnesses who were powerless to help. We decide that the cafe was being cagey because the kidnapping was fact.

The story is passed on to friends and relatives. Then someone says that the CPLC and police have had no reports of a kidnapping. This is confirmed high up in the CPLC (Citizens Police Liason Committee - who do AMAZING work helping recover kidnap victims). So it was a hoax.

Turns out another friend heard a variation of the story two days earlier - same cafe.

This time the "friend of a friend" was in the cafe when armed gunmen came in looking for girls and dragged two out in front of shocked witnesses. All the elements of the kidnapping were different except the name of the cafe and the number of girls picked up. Another hoax.

By this time however, we are thinking "there's no smoke without fire".

Those who can afford it have hired personal guards and it looks like many more women and children will be going around with personal guards than before. The rumour mongers succeed.

Yes, we live in uncertain times. Way too often the unbelievable rumours we hear turn out to be true, but seriously the one's on March 6 were ludicrous, scary, maddening and saddening.

We must all refrain from passing on stories unless we've checked the source; our sanity is at stake.

This post originally appeared here
Salima Feerasta A freelance Journalist and opinion columnist who grew up in England and is an alumni of Oxford University. Salima blogs at www.karachista.com and tweets at @karachista (https://twitter.com/karachista)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Atiya | 11 years ago | Reply Finally! someone agrees with me. There is a phrase for this: Mass Hysteria and it was used to tremendous effect by Orson Welles in 1938. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
shagufta kashif | 11 years ago | Reply Not at all well writren....infact its a confused piece...might as well give to editing so they can put appropriately what u r trying to say. Secondly, the evidence to prove that is all joax isnt enough infact non existent. Next time, try writing sensibly n not forward ur notes taking diary to be published ad it is. As the topic u addressed is a serious one. Better luck next time.
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