Twenty three people have been arrested Monday in connection with the lynching of five people in Maharashtra’s Dhule district. Those arrested are residents of Rainpada and between the age group of 20 and 30 years and have been sent to four-day police custody.
The lynchings, apparently triggered by social media posts, took place Sunday morning in the tribal hamlet of Rainpada in Sakri taluka, about 325 km from Mumbai, over suspicion that the victims were part of a gang of child lifters.
The mob that attacked them reportedly comprised over 35 people, including some children.
Police said the five victims, along with a few others, were seen getting down from a state transport bus. When one of them apparently tried to speak to a girl child, the villagers, who had gathered for the weekly Sunday market, pounced on them.
“The accused hail from a tribal village where WhatsApp posts pertaining to child kidnappers had gone viral. Based on the posts, the mob suspected the victims to be child lifters and thrashed them to death,” M Ramkumar, Superintendent of Police, Dhule, told The Indian Express.
“The victims were nomads who had come to seek alms at the weekly bazaar,” he said. A case has been registered against 35 people, of which 12 — all residents of Rainpada village — have been named. All have been booked under Section 302 (murder) and sections pertaining to rioting of the IPC. “We have registered a case. Of the 12 named, most of them will be formally arrested by night,” said Ramkumar.
Purported video clips of the incident showed the victims being thrashed with slippers, before being dragged to the Rainpada gram panchayat office, where they were beaten up with sticks. Some minors can also be seen punching, kicking and dragging the victims by their collars. In one video clip, a victim can be seen pleading for help, while the bloodied bodies of the other four victims are lying on the floor. The person shooting the video can be heard warning the victim, “tujhe marega phirse (I will hit you again)”.