In yet another incident of violence fuelled by social media rumours, a mob attacked a woman in Tikiapara area of Howrah early on Thursday, suspecting her to be a child-lifter.
Police said rumours of a child-lifter had been making the rounds in Tikiapara for over a week. When people saw the woman in the area, some of them allegedly spread word that she was the kidnapper, following which a large mob gathered and attacked her. A local resident informed the police and they rushed to her rescue.
Sources said the mob did not listen to the police and threw stones at the personnel when they tried to rescue the woman. The police eventually used tear gas to dispel the crowd. The woman was rescued and taken to the local police station, after which her family was informed of the incident.
The woman on Thursday filed a complaint against unknown people for attacking her.
People from poorest sections ‘easy targets’
recent incidents of mob violence in the state indicate that people from the poorest section of society, including beggars, ragpickers and the homeless, are “easy targets”. The authorities are making efforts to identify and rehabilitate them, but the major challenge is the scarcity of space to accommodate them safely. Another challenge is zeroing in on the origin of these rumours. Reports say that along with the rural population, metropolitan residents are also falling for rumours. Increased patrolling in sensitive areas and escorting vulnerable people to safer places at odd hours may help check such incidents.
DCP (South Howrah) Sumanjit Ray told The Indian Express, “We have received a complaint from the victim and two persons have been detained. We will also file another case against people for attacking police.”
“It was around 1 am when the incident took place. A mob of around 1,500 to 2,000 people gathered and started assaulting the woman. When we reached, she was already injured,” police said.
35-year-old man lynched for ‘stealing’
A 35-year-old man was lynched in Purulia on Wednesday night, allegedly after local residents caught him stealing. Police sources said the deceased, Gouri Shankar Kumar, and one of his associates entered Kotshila area with the intention of stealing buffaloes. They were allegedly attacked by local residents while trying to leave the area.
The police soon reached the spot and took away the two men. However, Kumar was declared brought dead at the Kotshila primary health centre. “The mob attacked him after he was caught red-handed. Instead of handing him over to the police, they took the law into their hands… A case will be lodged, we are waiting for the relatives of the deceased to file a complaint,” a senior Purulia police officer told The Indian Express.