Rumors of harmful cosmic rays heading for earth from Mars spread like wildfire via text messages and phone calls, as the incident triggered widespread panic among the residents of Kashmir on Tuesday night.
The chaos started after a message ostensibly from BBC and NASA urged the people to switch off their mobile phone as the cosmic rays from Mars were entering the earth. The frenzied people started making calls to their friends and relatives to advise them to keep away the phones as the heading cosmic rays are dangerous. The rumors have been widely spread by the Facebook and Twitter, taking the bogus news even to other places.
"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 hoax message read The Hindustan Times reported.
People also made calls to media houses and the Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Cell to verify the authenticity of the report. According to a BSNL official, the call traffic increased manifold during late hours due to the frantic calls made by the citizens.
Disaster Management Cell finally stepped in to clarify that the news about cosmic rays was part of rumor mongering and there was no need to panic.
"There are reports that people all around the world are receiving false messages attributed to NASA and BBC that Cosmo rays are entering Earth from Mars and have asked people to switch off their mobile phones at night and not to keep them inside and to put it away while sleeping. It is clarified that neither BBC nor NASA has released any such news related to Cosmo rays and it is only a rumour," Amir Ali, coordinator of the Valley's Disaster Management Cell said in a statement.
"Please don't pay heed to these rumours and help educate others. Spreading rumours and unsubstantiated warnings is unethical and against the law," he emphasised.
The rumor is apparently related to the myth - Mayan calendar's Doomsday Prophecy - that signals end of the world on December 12.