The rumours of kidnappers going around towns and villages in the Karnataka-Maharashtra region, abducting children for their organs, spread to Belagavi this week, prompting Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Patil on Wednesday to direct police officials to spread the message in all villages in their jurisdiction that no kidnappings had been reported in the district.

The spread of similar rumours on social media had led to the assault of four sadhus in Maharashtra’s Sangli district on Tuesday.

Patil said the messages were false after villagers in Koujalagi village of Gokak caught a few sadhus last weekend, claiming that they were abducting a 10-year-old boy in their vehicle after luring him with chocolates. The police intervened and learnt that the sadhus were from Uttar Pradesh and were on their way to Rameshwaram. Their IDs were verified and they were from Aligarh and Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, Patil said. The sadhus decided to return to Uttar Pradesh after the incident.

In another instance, bedsheet sellers from outside Karnataka were caught on the suspicion that they were kidnappers. A mentally challenged person too was handed over to the police on the same suspicion.

The rumours said that children were being kidnapped so that their organs could be sold and spoke of incidents being reported in Bailhongal, Kittur, Zunjawad K Nandagad and other villages in Belagavi district.

SP Patil issued a statement saying there were no kidnapping incidents reported in Belagavi district and also urged people to contact 112 (police helpline) if they found anything suspicious.

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