One more person was arrested in connection with the lynching of five people in Maharashtra’s Dhule district, Dhule Superintendent of Police (SP) M Ramkumar said Thursday. With this arrest, the number of persons arrested in the case is up to 24.
Maharu Pawar (22), a resident of Rainpada who was absconding since the incident took place on Sunday, was arrested from Nandurbar on Wednesday, the officer said.
According to Ramkumar, Pawar is one of the accused seen in the video assaulting the victims mercilessly in the panchayat office.
The accused is purportedly seen leading the mob while assaulting the men with sticks and rods, news agency PTI reported.
“Our team was searching for him and was able to nab him,” the police official told PTI, adding that a search is underway to nab the remaining accused.
On Monday, 23 people were arrested and sent to police custody for four days.
What happened on Sunday
The lynchings, apparently triggered by social media posts, took place on Sunday morning in the tribal hamlet of Rainpada about 325 km from Mumbai. The victims were suspected to be 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 in the village. 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,” Ramkumar had earlier told The Indian Express.
“The victims were nomads who had come to seek alms at the weekly bazaar,” he had said.
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.