A 40-year-old woman beggar was lynched by a mob on the suspicion of being a child lifter in Vadaj area of Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon.
The victim, identified as Shanta Devi, a resident of Sumerpur taluka in Rajasthan’s Pali district, was accompanied by three more women in an auto-rickshaw when a mob of 40 to 50 people chased the vehicle and attacked them, said police. The three other women were also injured in the attack and have been admitted to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.
The lynching is said to have been triggered by a rumour of “child lifters in the area” that has been doing the rounds on social media for the past couple of days.
According to the complaint filed by the victim’s sister-in-law Ansi, she and the three women — Shanta, Ashu and Leela — had left their relative’s home in Sardarnagar area of Ahmedabad for seeking alms. “Around 2.25 PM, we took an autorickshaw at Naranpura crossing and headed towards Juna Wadaj. At that time, we saw some people chasing our autorickshaw, and at Wadaj circle they stopped us,” the complainant told the police.
According to her, the people, who stopped them, were shouting “tame balak uthavi lavi java vali gang cho (you are the gang of child-lifters)”. They were dragged out of the autorickshaw and brutally beaten up. The autorickshaw was also damaged by the violent mob.
The autorickshaw driver, who was spared by the mob, said the mob gathered as they were passing through Juna Vadaj circle. “People attacked the autorickshaw and started beating up the women, shouting at them to come out. When the women didn’t come out, they started dragging them out of the vehicle,” said Ghani Khan, the auto-driver.
According to a policeman of Vadaj police station, there were hundreds of people at the spot. “We wriggled our way through the crowd to get the women to a safer place and first aid. By the time we called the ambulance, the mob disappeared…These women were rumoured to be a part of child kidnapping gang,” said the policeman, without disclosing his identity.
“A case of murder has been registered and an investigation is on to identify the accused. We have sought the help of media to counter rumour mongering. We will take strict legal action against anybody indulging in that,” Ahmedabad Police Commissioner A K Singh said.