The July 1 Dhule lynching, in which five nomads were killed by a mob, was triggered by rumours fuelled by a fake WhatsApp post and word of mouth, the Dhule police has said in its chargesheet filed last week in the case.
Recounting the incident, the eyewitnesses have stated that the policemen who reached the spot were equipped with service revolvers and lathis and were threatened by the accused with dire consequence if they intervened. The bodies were handed over only after the accused confirmed that the victims had died, their statement said. The police have chargesheeted 28 arrested accused on the charges of murder, rioting, voluntary causing hurt, voluntary causing grievous hurt under the Indian Penal Code (IPC); seven have been shown wanted, sources said.
“The chargesheet was filed last week under relevant sections of the IPC against the accused who are currently in judicial custody,” said Dhule SP Vishwas Pandhare. On July 1 five nomads of the Govani community, who had camped for the second time in less than a month in Dhule to seek alms, were killed on the suspicious of being child lifters in Rainpada hamlet of Dhule around 350 km from Mumbai. The victims were identified as Dadarao Shankarao Bhosale (36), his brother Bharat (45), Bharat Malve (45), Aagnu Srimant Ingole (20) and Raju Bhosale (47). While Raju hailed from Gondwan village of Karnataka, the others were residents of Mangalweda in Solapur district. The victims were related to each other.
“In our chargesheet we have mentioned that days before the incident a WhatsApp video with a Hindi voiceover claiming that a case was detected by ‘Tamil Nadu police’ where kids were abducted so that their kidneys could be sold made rounds in Dhule. Fuelled by the rumour, the accused manhandled the victims on the suspicion of being child lifters and led them to Rainpada where a Sunday bazaar was underway. The word spread that a few child lifters, who were abducting children to sell their kidneys, had been nabbed and it was time to teach them a ‘lesson’, leading to the lynching,” said a senior official from the DGP office.
Piecing together the sequence of events, the police probe has revealed that the five nomadic men were first confronted in Gotilamba. First it was just a murmur that they were child lifters; soon it turned into a rumour. And as the rumor spread from Gotilamba to Rainpada, the victims too were pushed and dragged through the 400-metre stretch, sources said.
In his statement, Sakkaram Pawar, a panchayat member of Rainpada and an eyewitness, has said that the victims were carrying a diary and a document stating that they were nomads from a drought-hit area. In the diary, he said, there were letters attested by police stations, allowing them to beg. “They had Aadhaar cards, one even had a passport,” his statement mentioned.
Pawar said some villagers managed to get the victims locked inside the panchayat office to save them, but the mob broke the door. “We managed to get them locked inside the panchayat office to save them from the mob but the furious mob wasn’t convinced, it pulled out an iron rod that was acting as a support to a cow shed of the neighbouring home and broke open the door and barged in. Chairs, tables, bricks, bamboos anything that came their way was used as a weapon to attack them. I along with two other panchayat members tried to stop them but they questioned my intension and asked me if I was being paid by the victims who were child abductors and wanted to kidnap the village kids to sell their organs. I called the police but the mob threatened them with iron rods and didn’t allow them to enter the office,” his statement further mentioned.