A sickle-wielding youngster dragging a naked man by a rope tied to his hand. The image is the Ranchi police’s latest headache. The assault, after all, is the second major incident of superstition-linked mob violence in the district in less than a month.
On Monday night, a 200-strong mob assaulted a youngster at the Tangertoli hamlet in the outskirts of Ranchi after he was accused of knocking on people’s doors during the night and running away. Villagers, who claimed that the man was wearing a saree when caught, said that he tried to scare people by making the “knocks” seem like the handiwork of some supernatural force. After thrashing the man during a power outage, some youngsters from the village uploaded the pictures on Facebook.
While the Ranchi police filed an FIR, it did not mention any perpetrators by name. It merely stated that 200 unknown people had assaulted the youngster.
Reacting to the incident, Superintendent of Police (Rural) Rajkumar Lakra said: “I will be holding a meeting later today (Thursday) to chart our course of action on Monday’s incident.”
The SP added that the police were yet to identify the victim, who was admitted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, due to his poor health.
Kuldeep Lakra, the lone ward member representing Tangertoli hamlet in the Sidroll panchayat, said: “We first heard about the trouble in Sidroll a month back. Then it was reported from Singwatoli… At some point, somebody linked these knocks with the power cuts and said the knocks always happened just before we lost power.”
Residents claimed hearing knocks on their doors at night, but found no one when they went to answer the door. The hamlet later formed teams of young men who began patrolling its perimeters at night.
On Sunday, the villagers apprehended a stranger at about 10 in the night and handed him over to the Namkum police station. “He too, was wearing a saree,” said ward member Lakra. The police, however, said he was let off with a warning.
On Monday at 8.30 pm, the patrolling party apprehended the bearded youngster they later thrashed. “When they caught up with him, he snatched their weapons and attacked them…Yes, I agree they should not have been so harsh on him – men came from nearby hamlets to beat him up,” said the ward member.
On August 7, fellow villagers had lynched five women in rural Ranchi’s Mandar, accusing them of practising witchcraft.
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