A mob in Nagaland barged into the Dimapur Central Jail on Thursday afternoon, dragged out a rape accused and lynched him. Police said the mob overpowered jail security, tied up the man and dragged him for seven kilometres, thrashing him along the way. By the end, he succumbed to his injuries.
Later in the evening, curfew was imposed in Dimapur town following incidents of arson. “The situation is grim. The rape accused is said to be an illegal Bangladeshi infiltrator,” Nagaland DGP L L Doungel, who rushed from Kohima to Dimapur, said. He added that a few arrests had been made.
The victim has been identified as 35-year-old Syed Farid Khan, a small-time trader who dealt in scrap and used motor cars. The incident triggered a backlash against Bangladeshi immigrants, with houses and shops run by them coming under attack.
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Incidentally, the state has been in the grip of an agitation over the issue of illegal immigrants for the past two weeks.
According to reports, despite Section 144 being imposed in Dimapur since Wednesday evening, the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and some other local groups called a rally on Thursday to protest against the alleged rape. In the afternoon, a mob rushed to the jail, broke open the gates by overpowering the security personnel on duty. Khan was stripped, tied up and dragged to City Clock Tower area — being kicked and pelted with stones along the way.
Khan was accused of raping a student of a local women’s college on February 24. The NSF and other groups had earlier demanded that he should not be granted bail.
When police turned up to remove Khan’s body, the mob started pelting stones, injuring several personnel. The police then resorted to lathi charge and opened fire. The mob also set an Indian Reserve Battalion bus on fire.
The mob then headed to Purana Bazar area, where the rape-accused had his shop, and reportedly set several shops and houses on fire.
Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang, who is in New Delhi, called up senior ministers and officers, following which a government statement was issued asking people to show restraint. As visuals of the lynching started doing the rounds, the state government requested the media not to share them — in a bid to prevent any more violence.
“Many ugly, objectionable pictures are already on social media, but the traditional media, which is available more widely, has been requested to be more sensitive and apply self censorship to help mitigate the possible ramifications,” the appeal read.