Dhule Collector Rahul Rekhawar has described the lynching of five people by a mob in the district on Sunday as a “spontaneous act” in his report to the Maharashtra government, it is learnt.
The report, submitted on Tuesday, states that the exact sequence of events that led to the attack – over suspicion that they were child-lifters – is still being probed by police, officials said.
“The murders were not planned but a spontaneous act in which the mob killed the five victim,” an official privy to details said, quoting the report.
“While the report does mention social media messages and rumours reaching the hamlet. But (it states that) whether there is a connection between a WhatsApp post/posts and the incident…needs to be probe in detail by the police,” the official said.
Rekhawar confirmed sending a report but declined to provide details.
He said the district administration has written to Maharashtra Police’s cyber cell to probe the origin of the fake social media posts. “Once we manage to trace the person who posted the fake posts, action will be taken against him,” Rekhawar said.
The lynching took place in Dhule’s Rainpada hamlet, around 350 km from Mumbai. All five victims belonged to Dawari Gosavi community, a nomadic tribe as per the state list.
An officer who is part of the investigation said some of the accused, who have been arrested, have justified their act claiming that they were teaching a lesson to the “gang” that, they alleged, had come to Rainpada to abduct their children and sell off their body parts. “Asked about documents the victims tried to show to ascertain that they came from a tribe of nomads who travel village to village, begging for a living, the accused said they found it bogus,” the officer said.
“During interrogation they told us that they received several videos of (alleged) child-lifters in way of WhatsApp forwards over the last couple of months, and that they (these rumours) were being discussed (in the area). We have found many such videos on their phones and are probing if the two (the video clips and the fatal assault) are connected,” a senior Dhule police officer told The Indian Express.
Dhule Superintendent of Police M Ramkumar said, “Our focus is to arrest those who assaulted the victims, and not the bystanders. We have found 40 mobile phone clips shots by witnesses and we are studying them to zero in on the accused.”