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WhatsApp helps Prevent Marriage of a Minor Girl in Maharashtra

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Mumbai, May 07, 2017: A WhatsApp message sent by an alert neighbour to a Mumbai journalist, who in turn alerted the authorities, helped prevent a minor girl’s marriage in this tourist city, officials said on Saturday.

Prompt police action foiled the marriage of the girl – aged 17 years and 8 months – in Harsul area of the city on Friday afternoon.

The Mumbai journalist forwarded the WhatsApp message to the Maharashtra State Women’s Commission Chairperson Vijaya Rahate.

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“As it sounded serious, I contacted the Aurangabad Deputy Commissioner of Police-Zone II Rahul Shrirame around 9 a.m., requesting him to look into the matter urgently,” Rahate said.

“I immediately despatched a two-member police team from the local Harsul police station to go and fully enquire into the matter and inform me of the factual position,” Shrirame told IANS.

The police team led by Inspector Dnyanesh Sable reached the marriage venue where full merry-making was underway with dancing, music and the marriage feast being readied nearby.

“We went and met the families of the bride and the groom who were making last-minute preparations for the ‘mangal mahurat’ scheduled at 11 a.m. in an adjacent temple,” Sable told IANS.

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As the guests continued their revelry, Sable and his men made discreet investigations with the two families and learnt that the girl was indeed a minor and could not be married for at least another four months as per Indian law. The legal age to marry for women in India is 18.

The police learnt that the teen came from a very poor family, her mother had deserted her father who is paralysed since years and unable to support the family, and dependent on relatives for sheer survival.

A marriage proposal was received for the girl at a recent family wedding, which her uncle and others pursued and the wedding was finalised for May 5.

Sable informed DCP Shrirame and the police counselled the two families, making it absolutely clear that if they went ahead with the wedding they could face stringent police action.

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“Fortunately, the boy’s side also understood the gravity of the situation. They have decided to perform the marriage after some more months elapses and the girl is legally eligible to marry,” DCP Shrirame said.

In a bid to assuage the feelings of a large number of wedding guests, the police team requested them to partake of the marriage feast, but minus the wedding, of course.

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The police also requested the guests to ensure they returned to bless the couple at their ‘legal marriage’ after four months and received a huge round of applause in the marquee for their prudent handling of the delicate situation.

Shrirame and Rahate said that though social networking sites have a lot of irrelevant stuff circulating if used properly it can act as a major catalyst in preventing such potentially serious incidents. IANS

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Government Pressure: WhatsApp to Limit Message Forwarding In INDIA

WhatsApp reacted: "In India, where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world, we'll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once.

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The app is adding more features to group chats. Wikimedia commons

 Hauled up second time by the government on its failure to check the spread of fake and provocative content on its platform amid growing lynching episodes, Whatsapp on Friday said it is launching a test to limit message forwarding to five chats that will apply to its users in India.

In its second notice on Thursday, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) took a tough stand, asking WhatsApp to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate enforcement of law in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news.

“It has been conveyed to them in unmistakable terms that it is a very serious issue which deserves a more sensitive response,” MeitY said in the notice.

WhatsApp reacted: “In India, where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world, we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once.

“We will also remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

The test, once comes to practice, will curtail WhatsApp’s services for over 200 million users in India. Globally, the company allows users to forward messages for up to 20 chats (either individuals or groups).

WhatsApp said that with new changes, which it will continue to evaluate, “will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.

“We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we’ll continue to improve our app with features like this one,” it added.

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“We will also remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said in a statement. Pixabay

In its first reply to the IT Ministry, WhatsApp said the company is “horrified” by terrible acts of violence.

The IT Ministry had asked WhatsApp to ensure that the platform is not used for malafide activities over the growing instances of lynching of innocent people owing to large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours being circulated on its platform.

The mobile messiging service listed several measures — including labelling Forwarding messages — in its first reply to control the spread of misinformation and abuse on its platform but failed to meet the requirements from the IT Ministry.

Several people have lost their lives in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumours of child lifting triggered via messages on WhatsApp.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for the first time admitted in the Lok Sabha on Thursday that fake news on social media has resulted in many mob lynching incidents in the country, saying the government has asked service providers to put a check on rumour mongering on social media.

Also Read-WhatsApp Begins Rolling Out ‘Restrict Group’ Feature For Admins

Expressing concern over the misuse of social media, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu also asked the government to evolve a national policy after discussing with all stakeholders including political parties to combat the menace.

The Supreme Court also issued 22 guidelines this week for the central and state governments to put an end to “horrendous acts” of vigilantism, lynching and mobocracy and directed them to work in tandem to take “preventive, remedial and punitive measures”. (IANS)