With trembling fingers, Vasu clicked on the link he got along with the disturbing email. The link opened a screen with the letters “The Blue Scarf” on top. Under it was a login screen. He typed JOURNALIST81, his username in public forums, and the one the email instructed him to use. He saw a chat window pop up and it flashed a message:
You have joined a private conversation.
JOURNALIST81: hello….is anyone here?
ANONYMOUS: You are the third one to arrive. We’ve been here waiting for half an hour.
CELEB_MEMES: Did you receive the video too?
JOURNALIST81: Yes, I did. May I know who you are?
ANONYMOUS: I think it is best if we kept our identities a secret.
CELEB_MEMES: I agree. But why were we emailed that disturbing video and asked to come to this forum to chat? I have nothing to do with that video….
JOURNALIST81: Neither do I
ANONYMOUS: We just have to wait and see. Why the name the blue scarf for a forum? Sounds like a superhero.
BLUESCARF: Maybe I am. But that is not why we are here.
ANONYMOUS: Finally he shows up. Who are you? Why did you threaten us to come here?
BLUESCARF: Weren’t you the one who suggested to keep our identities a secret? Also, I never threatened the three of you. I merely said I know you are responsible for the murder and asked you to come to this forum to know the truth.
JOURNALIST81: In that case. I have no connection to this. I am leaving.
BLUESCARF: Where is your curiosity Mr. Vasu? I am sure a reporter like you should find what is about to happen quite interesting.
JOURNALIST81: What??!! How do you know who I am?? Whatever happened to keeping our identities a secret?
BLUESCARF: I know who each of you are. Don’t worry. This conversation is private.
CELEB_MEMES: Then you do know that I am just a college student who posts memes online. I have nothing to do with the murder.
BLUESCARF: Patience! Each one of you is very much responsible. For the benefit of this conversation I am going to play the video again here. Look closely this time if you need to jog your memory.
A video started playing immediately on all their screens. The screen showed a door with a shadow cast on it that looked like a man. A girl wearing a blue silk scarf answered the door only to be pushed back by the man. As the girl fell on the floor, the sound of the door slamming shut could be heard. He loomed slowly towards the girl as she tried to scramble up from the floor. Taking a knife out with his other hand, the man bent over the pleading girl and stabbed her repeatedly until her pleading went silent and her body went limp. It was all over in an instant. The video showed her lifeless body as the man pulled the blue silk scarf from her neck and wrapped the bloody knife. The screen went black.
BLUESCARF: Anything you would like to say gentlemen?
ANONYMOUS: Gruesome indeed. I suspect it was you who murdered her. But why say we are responsible for it? Do you expect us to pay you money for the hit? If so, you are out of luck buddy.
BLUESCARF: A true businessman indeed Mr. Sekar. Always straight to the point. But it is not money I am after, neither was it I who murdered her. I believe you all know the girl in the video.
JOURNALIST81: Yes, she is that blogger girl right?
CELEB_MEMES: She used to write conspiracy theories about corruptions and people involved in it.
ANONYMOUS: One of those conspiracy theory was about a Minister and an actor involved in a scam. I did not believe it one bit and had some strong words to comment on her blog. I guess that is why you suspect me.
BLUESCARF: You amaze me with how quick you are at grasping the situation Mr. Sekar. But not surprising I guess. Those comments all three of you made in her blog has brought you here. You do realize it holds up as a good motive in a court if this video ever gets out.
JOURNALIST81: Listen, I don’t know what you expect from us, but this is not going to stick in a court. My comments on her blog were clearly my thoughts on her ridiculous and far-fetched theory. When is it illegal to express our thoughts in this country?
BLUESCARF: It never is. But it is illegal to make a death threat. Especially to support a politician who runs your paper. You didn’t stop at expressing your thoughts, but went further to insult that person on a public forum and threatened her life if she doesn’t detract her blog, and when she didn’t oblige you actually managed to shut her up forever. Just confess already!
CELEB_MEMES: Sir, I am just a student. I was just angry she claimed the actor I am a fan of was involved in a scam. I didn’t mean any of the things I said there. The memes I post on my page are not even my own. I just claim credit for those. I will stop it from now on sir. Please let me out of this. I am not brave enough to kill anyone. I am literally shaking as I type this sir. Please leave me out of this sir.
BLUESCARF: You’ve been very silent Mr. Sekar. Care to share your thoughts? After all, weren’t you the one who declared bravely that you will find her and kill her?
ANONYMOUS: That was a dialogue from a movie!! It was just on a spur of the moment. I am a strong supporter of the politician’s party and couldn’t bear seeing his name being dragged through the mud. I didn’t think anyone would find out who I was.
BLUESCARF: Exactly! All three of you didn’t think anyone can find you. You were hiding behind the anonymity of your online personas and thought it was okay to insult and threaten anyone. Things you wouldn’t do in real life. What do they say? “Give a man a mask and he will reveal who he really is”.
JOURNALIST81: Look! I accept it was mistake that we thought we could get away with saying anything anonymously online. But I am a respected person of this community and certainly didn’t stoop low enough to kill someone.
BLUESCARF: Well this isn’t the first time this has happened. Even your paper has covered countless instances of social activist bloggers getting hacked to death in various countries. How come the anonymity that should be protecting people like these bloggers from people like you, protecting you instead? Even students are showing a violent version of themselves online in the name of hero worship in our country. Trolls are a given in any social setting, but people like you who make death threats and insults need to be stopped.
ANONYMOUS: You are sounding like one of those bloggers yourself Mr. Bluescarf. Is that who you are? A friend of the blue scarf girl? But you are no different from us. Here you are making empty threats at us hiding behind anonymity.
BLUESCARF: Taste of your own medicine, perhaps?
JOURNALIST81: Listen you scum!! You know who I am and now I am making a direct threat to you. You have nothing over me. I am going to report this in my paper and have you arrested for blackmailing us for a crime we clearly didn’t do.
CELEB_MEMES: Please sir. Please don’t fight. I am innocent of this. Don’t drag my name into this. I’ll get expelled from college. Even my parents don’t know what I do online.
ANONYMOUS: What do you want??
BLUESCARF: The truth.
ANONYMOUS: And what truth do you want to know?
BLUESCARF: Not me Mr. Sekar. The world needs to know the truth. The truth about people like you and truth about the responsibility one should have on the internet. It is never OK to hide behind your online persona and act in any way you see fit. Those actions have repercussions. Every meme making fun of a celebrity, every comment threatening the life of people who post articles that goes against your belief, every video or blog you troll just for attention. Those actions do affect people. The internet has grown into a very negative and unsafe place. Bullies are running amok unchecked. I want the world to know this truth.
JOURNALIST81: Very impressive indeed!!! How do you propose to do that? You are not getting us to confess to a murder we didn’t commit.
BLUESCARF: A murder that never happened Mr. Vasu. I am the girl you saw getting killed in the video. I faked my own death with the help of a friend of mine to get you all to come here. And to answer your question on how will I manage to reveal this to the world. Well, this chat is being posted live on various forums and social media as we speak now. I contacted the police when I received those threats from you and through their cyber cell we tracked you three and set up this sting operation to discourage more people from ever committing crimes like this. You will be contacted by the friendly police very soon on crimes of making death threats. Have a good day J
End of chat session
The screen went blank as she closed her laptop. She breathed a sigh of relief and sipped on her coffee. The fake knife lay beside her wrapped in her blue scarf.