A day after a tribal labourer, mistaken for a robber, was dragged to Harsholi village, tied to a pillar and trashed by a mob of around 200 people, police on Monday recorded the statements of the villagers.
The assault on Churmal Bhura Ambaliya, a native of Dahod, was fourth such incident in the past few days since rumours of terrorist infiltration, dacoits of prowl and attacks spread fear among people living in Gandhinagar and surrounding areas. Residents are now keeping vigil in the night and at times attacking innocent individuals over suspicion.
“The attackers (of Churmal) haven’t been identified yet,” said SC/ST Cell DSP AD Vatalia who recorded the statements of Harsholi villagers.
On June 26, in the build up to such rumours, an Army jawan was severely thrashed by Kuha-Kanbha villagers who mistook him for a robber.
The incident had led to a clash between the locals and police, who reached there to rescue the Armyman.
On Saturday, police had arrested four persons from Ahmedabad and Kheda for allegedly spreading rumours and disturbing peace. Jayesh Koria (41) and Rahul Parmar (20) from Ahmedabad and Firoz Khalifa (30) and Kishan Bharwad (21) from Kheda were arrested after the origin of WhatsApp rumour “gangs on prowl” was “traced” to their cellphones.
The rumour mongering has already taken a political turn, with Congress legislature party leader Shankersinh Vaghela calling a press conference on Friday to announce protests, alleging that this was deliberately being done around constituencies of where Congress is strong. Vaghela is MLA from Kapadvanj in Kheda district.
On Monday, Vaghela held “Swarakshan Samellan” at Amba Hotel in Chandeliya village of Daskroi taluka, where he said: “ If innocent people will be targeted and harassed and caned, then Gujarat will burn. He added that BJP was misusing police.
The attacks on passersby began soon after Gandhinagar police held Lok Darbars in several villages to quell the fear due to rumours.
Gandhinagar Range IGP Hasmukh Patel met more than 1,750 villagers on July 3 and counselled them that there were miscreants spreading rumours through social media. The police had also formed “Janrakshak” groups with villagers to gather information on various activities in the district area.