A man was beaten to death and five others were injured in Borlai village of Dhar district by a mob after rumours of a gang of child lifters being active in the area were spread by people who owed money to the victims on Wednesday, police said.
The police said a monetary dispute between the victims who are all farmers and labour contractors was behind the incident.
The farmers, from Ujjain district, had been called to Khadkiya village of Dhar district with a promise to return money they had paid in advance for hiring labourers. They had to recover Rs 1.5 lakh of the Rs 2.5 lakh they had paid to the contractor.
When they reached Khadkiya in two vehicles, a dispute reportedly ensued and they were pelted with stones. When they tried to flee, people allegedly spread rumours of the gang of child lifters and said they were headed towards Borlai.
At Borlai, a mob of about 200 people stopped the cars. While one of the occupants of the car managed to escape, the remaining five were assaulted by the mob. A video showed the victims lying on the ground surrounded by men thrashing them. One vehicle was torched by the mob.
Dhar Superintendent of Police A P Singh told The Indian Express that an FIR has been registered against three people and at least 35 others have been identified in the video. He said the mob had killed one victim and the five injured have been shifted to Indore for treatment.
Two of the injured told local TV channels from the hospital that they had informed the police before entering the village and were told that there would be no trouble.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath ordered a probe into the incident saying strict action would be taken against those responsible. The BJP accused the Congress government of failing to control law and order in the state.
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