A biting story circulated by a United States website about a mock atrocity called the “Assam Rape Festival” has provoked a major dispute, and the police are continuing to search for the cyber criminals. The Assam Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is investigating the prank. The CID Superintendent, Nirmal Baishya, said they have launched a police probe that shows the “Assam Rape Festival” came from Uganda, but the website probably came out of Houston, Texas.
The piece, called “The Assam Rape Festival in India begins this Week,” ran in “National Report” about three weeks ago, and spread quickly over the internet. The “National Report” claimed to be “America’s #1 Independent News Team.” It deceptively described an annual ritual which “began in 43 B.C. and wrote that it was ‘just days away.’” It recounted a false report about men in Assam, India who compete to rape the greatest number of women they can every year. It even quoted women quipping about their past rapes as if it were nothing.
A sharp act of revenge from India resulted in a piece called “The Great American Mass Shooting Festival Begins Next Week.” At this fictitious U.S. event, the people in “The Freedom Group” took advantage of their right to bear arms and freely shot ethnic groups out of hate and prejudice. Later, the writer who made mockery out of the U.S. apologized because shootings should not have been posed as a joke.
Although freedom of speech includes expressing humor, the prank called the “Assam Rape Festival” has gone beyond what anyone would consider tolerant. The CID is investigating these “unknown perpetrators of a cyber crime” and has requested help from the India Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN).
CID Senior superintendent of police, Dr. B. Kuman Upadhyaya, said that although their initial probing has shown Uganda as the location where the “Assam Rape Festival” came from, it will take time for them to find the exact source in Uganda. “We have written mails to the administrator of a Ugandan website, which has circulated the link to the defamatory article. We have sought their cooperation in our investigation,” he said.
The CID suspects that the cyber crime is not only one of “defamation” but “conspiracy.” The offenders intentionally targeted Assam and the country, according to the CID. This case has been filed under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which will discipline anyone who circulates unacceptable messages through any kind of communication device, and furthermore, includes any “publishing and transmitting in electronic form of any kind of material, which contains sexually explicit acts…” under Section 67A.
This spoof has been a source of protest and outrage throughout the world, and the search for the offenders of this cyber crime will continue. As soon as the Police probe succeeds in showing who is responsible for the “Assam Rape Festival” coming from Uganda, the likely outcome will be grim.
By Danelle Cheney