Rumours fanned by messages on social media and instant messaging of children been kidnapped have resulted in multiple incidents of lynching across the country. The latest incident saw one man being lynched while another was beaten up by villagers on suspicion of cow smuggling on Friday night.
In all the cases what was common was the rumour that there was a gang of individuals involved in child abduction. In some cases, there was a fake video of the alleged abductors caught in action.
Here is a look at the attacks in the past few months:
July 20, 2018: Akbar Khan was allegedly lynched by a group of people who accused him of smuggling cows in Rajasthan’s Alwar. Khan and his friend Aslam were taking two cows to their village in Haryana through a forested area near Lalawandi in Alwar district when five men attacked them.
Three persons have been arrested in connection with the case.
July 1, 2018: Five people got off a state transport bus in the tribal-dominated Rainpada hamlet and one of them tried to speak to a child there, police said. The villagers, who had gathered for the weekly Sunday market, pounced on them and assaulted 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. Twelve people have been arrested Monday and are between the age group of 20 and 30 years.
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.
June 28, 2018: A hawker was lynched and three others were injured after a mob attacked them, suspecting them to be kidnappers, at Murabari in West Tripura district on Thursday. The deceased was identified as Zahir Khan from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Gulzar Ahmed Khan and Khurshid Khan from Bihar, and Swapan Miya from Agartala were among those injured.
The four were travelling in a van when locals spotted them and claimed that they were abductors. A mob of close to thousand people gathered and they assaulted them.
Three separate incidents of lynching happened in the course of a day over rumours of child-lifting, including one person who was hired for Rs 500 by the district administration to kill rumours.
June 26, 2018: A 40-year-old woman, Shanta Devi, was beaten to death by a mob in Vadaj area of Ahmedabad on suspicion of being an abductor.
The incident took place when a mob of around 30 persons attacked four women who were travelling in an auto rickshaw. Shanta, a beggar, died on her way to hospital, while her three companions are recuperating.
June 22, 2018: An unidentified man was allegedly beaten to death by a mob on suspicion of being a child-lifter in Chhattisgarh’s Sarguja district.
According to the police, the man was caught by villagers, who suspected him of being a kidnapper. With rumours circulating over the last few days in the area, the villagers questioned the man. He was beaten after he failed to explain his identity.
Around 10 people from the village were arrested.
June 8, 2018: Nilotpal Das (29) and Abhijeet Nath (30) were stopped, pulled out of their vehicle, and beaten to death by a mob of angry villagers at Panjuri in Karbi Anglong district. The villagers believed the duo were abductors.
Das, a musician and event manager, was based in Goa while Nath, an engineering graduate with a “deep interest in fish and animals”, ran a business in Guwahati. Karbi Anglong Superintendent of Police G V Siva Prasad told The Indian Express that Nath and Das had probably gone to “catch some species of exotic fish available in the region” and were travelling through the village when they were caught.
May 28, 2018: A 52-year-old transgender was allegedly lynched to death by a mob in Hyderabad’s Chandrayangutta, suspecting her to be a kidnapper due to rumours of a gang of kidnappers being on the prowl in Telangana. Three others were also injured in the incident.
According to the police, the four had travelled to Hyderabad from Telangana’s Mahabubnagar district and were seeking alms in the area when local residents stopped them and started questioning them. The mob then attacked them and pelted stones at them.