In two separate incidents, local people caught three persons in Tapi district on Wednesday on suspicion that they were child-lifters. Police, however, said they were not kidnappers and had fallen victim to social media rumours.
In the first incident, Dilip Devram Savre (40) a resident of Palanpurpatia of Surat was assaulted in Kukarmunda village, which falls close to the Gujarat-Maharashtra border. According to police, the people in the area suspected his motive after seeing him giving chocolate to a girl.
They assaulted him before taking him to Nizar police station. In his statement to the police, however, Savre said he was on his way to visit a friend, a policeman. There, he told police, he had some liquor and had gone to buy some tobacco from a local store. When the store gave him a chocolate as change, he decided to give it a child there, said police.
Although police booked and arrested Savre for violating prohibition, they did not slap charges of attempting to kidnap the child. They booked persons for assaulting the man. The second incident took place in Pati village in Dolvan taluka, where two visitors to a village were caught when locals saw them clicking pictures on their mobile phones. When alerted, police reached the spot and later released them after questioning.
“We verified both cases and found that the victims were not member of any gang involved in kidnapping,” said Tapi district SP N N Chaudhary. “The rumours of a kidnapping gang have gone viral. We have started sending teams to different villages to make people aware of such rumours. We have also put a tab on some WhatsApp groups and call persons who have sent such rumours. On questioning them, they tell us that they had forwarded these messages as received. We have also instructed locals that if they find any suspected activities or persons, they should not take law in their hands.”