Late on Wednesday evening, a message attributed to NASA and BBC news service went viral online with people sharing it on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The message, which sparked panic, reads: “Attention please: Tonight 12:30am to 3:30am cosmos rays are entering earth from Mars. So switch off your mobile at night. Don't keep your cell with you and put it away while you are sleeping because they are too much dangerous rays.”
The message had people switching off their phones and calling each other to take precaution. “After reading the message, we immediately cut off power supply to the mobile tower in our premises,” said Naseer Ahmad, a resident of south Kashmir’s Bijbehara area.
At several places, mobile users complained that towers were shut by people who have it at private premises. Newspapers offices were flooded with queries by the mobile users.
Late on Tuesday night, the Kashmir’s divisional office issued a state to put to rest the viral rumour. “Don’t panic please. It’s just a rumour,” said Kashmir’s divisional commissioner’s office.
Amir Ali, spokesman of Kashmir divisional commissioner’s office, clarified, “People all around the world are receiving false messages attributed to NASA and BBC that cosmos rays are entering into Earth from Mars. It is clarified that neither BBC nor NASA has released any such news related to Cosmo rays and it is only a rumour.”
The state government asked cellular users “not to pat pay heed to these rumours and help educate others”.
“Spreading rumours and unsubstantiated warnings is unethical and against the law,” said the divisional commissioner’s office.
Rumours and myths around numbers are common in Asia. Many people attribute many myths to 12/12/12, which is 12, Dec of 2012. While many people are using it for memorable dates, some believe untoward incident are bound to unfold.