Even as the outrage over the Palghar mob lynching is yet to subside, the Panchmahals police in Gujarat averted a similar incident in the tribal areas of the district on Monday.
Police said that a group of villagers from Bhamaiya village in Godhra Taluka was booked for allegedly “assaulting” three men travelling in a pick-up vehicle on the suspicion that they were “thieves”.
With viral messages warning of “thieves” arriving in most of the tribal villages in the area, the three persons were stopped Monday night at Bhamaiya village. The men, all residents of Dahod district, were on their way to purchase cattle feed from Kheda, they said in the FIR registered with the Godhra taluka police.
When the vehicle reached Bhamaiya, villagers armed with sticks stopped them for questioning. Police said that the group of villagers were apprehended after the news reached the patrol team of the area. The men, in their FIR, stated that they were beaten with sticks and sustained injuries before the police arrived. The accused are yet to be arrested.
Superintendent of Police Leena Patil told The Indian Express, “The patrol team reached the spot in Bhamaiya village at once and stopped the incident from taking an untoward turn. We have booked four villagers for assault under section 323 of the IPC among others. We have also booked the three men travelling in the vehicle for violating lockdown under Section 188 of the IPC as well as the Epidemic Act. This is because they did have permission for transportation from the Dahod district administration but for another vehicle and not the one that they were travelling in.”
Police said the trio did not suffer any grievous injury and were released on bail.
Patil said that the district police has already begun a campaign to create awareness against vigilantes taking law into their hands against suspected thieves.
“We have formed teams of village sarpanch and members of the gram panchayat as well as volunteers to ensure that no such incidents occur. For the last one week, messages of thieves coming to villages in Dahod have been making rounds as thefts are rampant here. Just about four days ago we formed WhatsApp groups with local police inspectors and villagers to make sure that the villagers inform the police about any such unknown suspected person and not take law in their hands. We have also given out phone numbers of the officers to the villagers and asked them to call the police immediately if they suspect anything,” she said.