As Muslims across the State were preparing for Eid in the early hours of Monday, many from the community developed allergic reactions to the mehndi they had applied to celebrate the occasion

As Muslims across the State were preparing for Eid in the early hours of Monday, many from the community developed allergic reactions to the mehndi they had applied to celebrate the occasion. However, the innocuous allergenic effect led to unexpected tension and kept the police on tenterhooks for hours.

As 130 people rushed to the Rajiv Gandhi General Hospital (RGGH) here between 1.00 and 3.00 am with symptoms such as rashes and swollen palms, rumours spread thick and fast that the mehndi used was potentially fatal and some text messages claimed that a girl had died as a result.

The rumour spread quickly across the State hours ahead of the Ramzan festival, and hundreds of women thronged hospitals in Chennai, Vellore, Salem and other places, complaining of skin irritation and nausea, police sources said.

Investigation revealed that the rumour spread in Chennai, Vellore, Ranipet, Salem, Arani, Vaniyambadi, Tiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri and other places. Acting on the instructions of Director-General of Police K. Ramanujam, senior police officials intervened and convinced representatives of the Muslim community that the rumours were “baseless” and “motivated”, the sources said.

“The message actually emanated from Facebook and spread via chain-mails and SMS. It stated that a girl who used one particular brand of cone mehndi had developed serious skin allergy, which resulted in her death. There was another SMS which said four people had died in Bangalore. This is completely baseless…we have identified one mobile number involved in the rumour. The Cyber Crime Police have been entrusted with the probe,” a top police official told The Hindu.

Investigators in Tamil Nadu were coordinating with their counterparts in Bangalore as part of the probe.

“Efforts are on to pinpoint the exact source of these rumours. We are also in touch with the Intelligence Bureau in this regard,” a police official said.

He added that normality prevailed across the State and special prayers in mosques on the occasion of Ramzan went off peacefully.

RGGH officials said four persons were admitted after they exhibited some serious symptoms.

V. Kanagasabai, Dean of RGGH said, “Patients came with burning sensation and rashes and were mostly treated in the outpatient department. They were given anti-histamine tablets to control the growing allergy.”

The four patients admitted at the GH are almost cured and have been kept under observation.

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