Three members of a family, including two women, were burnt to death, while another member was seriously injured when a huge mob torched their house in a village under Kairo police station area of Lohardaga district late Sunday night. Two others were rescued by the police in the nick of time.
The police said that the mob accused the head of the family of being a tantric, who would steal babies for carrying out sacrifices. However, the police said that, prima facie, this appeared to be rumours spread by the accused to get even with the victims. In order to reach the house, the police had to fire several rounds in the air and use force to disperse the murderous mob. Some policemen sustained stone and lathi injuries, when they tried to reach the house.
According to the police, information was received around 10 pm that a huge mob had gathered outside the house of Goverdhan Bhagat (70), a resident of Chito Theka Toli in Kairo.
At the time, at least six family members, including Goverdhan and his wife, Mado Bhagat (65), were present in the house. The mob had surrounded the house and wanted the family to teach a lesson for allegedly stealing babies for the purposes of sacrifices.
“By the time, we reached the village, which is 42 km from the headquarters, the mob had already set the house afire. They had surrounded it from all the sides and were adamant on not allowing the police to get near to the house. We had to fire several rounds in the air to disperse the mob. We had to get inside from the rear portion of the house, where we could rescue two persons. A third had sustained serious burn injuries. He was referred to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). His condition is reported to be stable,” said Lohardaga Superintendent of Police Kartik S.
The deceased have been identified as Goverdhan Bhagat, his wife Mado Bhagat and daughter-in-law Sukmania Bhagat (50). Goverdhan’s son, Lal Dev, has been sent to RIMS. Other two members were relatives, the police said.
Following investigations, the police have arrested at least 11 people, including the current village head, Ram Oraon. A separate FIR has been registered for obstructing public servant in discharge of duty and resorting to violence.
“Nearly 15-20 years ago, Goverdhan was sent to jail for allegedly killing somebody by beheading him. Since then, he was also referred to as ‘mud katwa (one who beheads). However, there is no evidence about him being a tantrik. He was a well-to-do person financially,” said the SP.
It has come to light that Goverdhan had contested the panchayat elections against Oraon and had lost. “It is possible that using this accusation as a pretext, somebody wanted to get even with him. We are investigating. More arrests are likely,” said Kartik.
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