While the policemen watched the lynching in Nagadi under Bagpeda police station near Jamshedpur on May 18, the mob pulled out one of the victims from the police jeep and beat him to death. The lynching took place barely 2 km from Bagpeda police station and 6 km from Jamshedpur town. For over three hours the victims were questioned, made to bring their friends and relatives to prove their identity, and then lynched. All this while, seven armed policemen were present. “The inquiry committee will look into all aspects. I am yet to receive the official order,” Prabhat Kumar, DIG Kolhan, told The Indian Express. Gautam Verma (27), his brother Vikas Verma (25) and their friend Gangesh Gupta were lynched at Nagadi village on May 18 following rumours of child-lifters being present in the area. Four others were lynched in Shobhapur the same day.
The Indian Express spoke with prime witness Uttam Verma, who was present during the lynching, as well as others in the village. Uttam and his brother Vikas were returning after putting up posters for their new business. “It was around 6.30 pm when we were stopped by a mob armed with lathis. Locals called the police, and seven armed policemen arrived,” Uttam said.
“The policemen tried to take us into custody, but the mob would not let them. I called home and our 80-year-old grandmother arrived. We showed our Aadhaar cards to the crowd, which had started beating us with rods and lathis. They also threw stones at us,” said Uttam, seated at his residence in Jamshedpur. Uttam now has an armed police guard. “Gautam got into the police jeep and policemen surrounded it. However, the crowd pulled him out of the jeep and beat him. He died on the spot. The policemen did nothing.” Vikas and Gangesh were also lynched.
The police did not call for reinforcements, nor supported the victims, Uttam added. “I begged before them, saying we were not child-lifters, but businessmen. My grandmother begged.” But the lynching continued till 9 pm. Uttam managed to slip out of the crowd. He walked for 2 km, after which a resident offered him a ride to Jamshedpur on his bike. The Indian Express visited Nagadi village.
Apart from some elderly residents, it seemed virtually abandoned. “There is no one here but us. After the incident and the raids, the youths have left the village. Had the policemen showed some courage, the deaths could have been avoided. The villagers kept questioning them in front of the police, then they killed them,” said Barsha Murmu (70), who has stayed back along with the women of his family.