SRINAGAR: Wailing parents carrying babies in their laps rushed to hospitals in whatever transport they could gather when rumour spread through the Indian Occupied Kashmir Valley on Sunday that children were dying after they were given anti-polio drops.

The rumour started on social networking sites, with WhatsApp and mobile phone calls doing the rest. Within hours, streets choked with cars, autos, jeeps, load carriers and buses carrying weeping mothers and their babies, reported the Hindustan Times on Monday..

In Srinagar, authorities were forced to close the out-patient section of GB Pant children’s hospital for some time as thousands of people thronged the premises. Similar mayhem was witnessed outside SMHS, JLNM and SKIMS hospitals.

People pushed and shoved demanding doctors for an “antidote”. When some doctors tried to reason with them, the agitated parents allegedly assaulted them.

Authorities requested radio and television stations to broadcast the official statement dismissing the rumour while mosques made announcements asking parents not to panic.

Police were trying to trace Facebook pages, WhatsApp groups and online sites responsible for fanning the rumour.

Officials said some prankster started the rumour. They dismissed reports of any child death because of the government-run immunization programme, called Pulse Polio, where camps are held and volunteers go door to door to give drops of the vaccine to children below five years.