File picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

New Delhi - The Indian government said on Wednesday it wants social media platform WhatsApp to take swift action to stop the spread of fake messages that have been linked to mob lynchings in the country.

India has witnessed a series of mob lynching cases over the past year, with a spurt in recent months, which police say were sparked by rumours spread on social media that child kidnappers were on the prowl.

Local media has reported 23 such killings by mobs in states across India between May 9 and July 1. Several of the victims were migrant labourers and beggars.

"Instances of lynching of innocent people have been noticed recently because large number of irresponsible and explosive messages filled with rumours and provocation are being circulated on WhatsApp," India's Information Technology Ministry had said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said it had conveyed its deep disapproval to the senior management at WhatsApp and advised it to take measures "to prevent proliferation of these fake and at times motivated/sensational messages."

WhatsApp had sent a reply to the government on the measures it was taking and plans it would carry out, ministry spokesman NN Kaul said.

"The Indian government is satisfied with their response but we want them to implement their assurances at the earliest."

"These messages should not be difficult to contain through application of appropriate technology," Kaul said.