Washington: Indian-American student Sunil Tripathi, who had been missing since mid-March, was on Friday wrongly identified on social media websites as one of the two suspects responsible for the Boston Marathon terror attack. The social media and part of the mainstream media was abuzz with rumors that 22-year-old Sunil, who went missing on March 16 and they have still not been able to find him, was the "possible suspect" in the Boston bombing that killed three persons and wounded nearly 180 others.
The rumor started thursday evening after the Boston police and the FBI released videos of two suspects, soon after which the social media became abuzz that one of those in the video was the missing Brown University student Sunil. Sunil's name and picture began floating around the Internet, as Reddit and other social media sleuths mused whether the missing student could be a suspect.
The word "possible" was dropped on social media sites and Sunil became one of the "suspects" at large. The nightmarish ordeal of the Tripathi family came to an end only after the Boston Police identified and named the two Chechen brothers as the suspects in the twin blasts.
The last 18 hours have generated tremendous and painful attention - on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, as well as from television media inquiries--linking Sunil to the video stills released by the FBI on Thursday afternoon, the Tripathi family said in a statement.
"Unequivocally, we have known that neither individual suspected as responsible for the incident in Boston was Sunil," said Akhil Tripathi, his father. Born and brought up in Kanpur, Tripathi lives in Pennsylvania where he runs a software company.
Ever since his son went missing, he has been living at a temporary accommodation provided by the varsity along with his family. The Tripathi family expressed their sympathies for victims and others affected by the cowardly acts of violence befalling the Boston community.
"The last 34 days, and the last 12 hours especially, have been heart-wrenching and exhausting. We remain tireless in our continued search for Sunil," says Judy Tripathi, his mother.