In what could be seen as a surge in mobs taking law into their hands on mistaken identities across the state, seven women and four men were beaten up in the last six days on suspicion of either being a child lifter or a thief. One of the men, a contract worker, succumbed to his injuries in Meerut’s Mawana town.
The uptick in mob attacks has triggered severe criticism of the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government. SP president Akhilesh Yadav on Monday termed the state as “Hatya” (murder) Pradesh, while BSP chief said a “jungle raj of mob lynching” was prevalent.
Over the last one week, police have been issuing advisories and appeals on social media, against rumours. Meerut DM Anil Dhingra on Monday appealed to people to reject child lifting rumours.
“Do not take the law into your hands by beating innocents. This practice is illegal and may land you in a trouble. Immediately inform the area police whenever you encounter suspected men and women,” the DM said.
Here is what played out on the streets of western Uttar Pradesh:
Ghaziabad, August 27
An elderly woman strolling with her grandson was attacked by a group of people over suspicion of kidnapping a child in Ghaziabad on Tuesday. According to police, the woman was walking in Ghaziabad’s Johripur area with her one-year-old grandson when people some started shouting that she was abducting the child.
“The rumour had been spread on social media… When we investigated, we found that the woman had taken her grandson shopping. Certain anti-social elements assaulted her as well. We are in the process of filing an FIR against persons who spread the news online, as well as those who attacked her. The case will be registered against almost 25 people at Loni police station,” said Neeraj Jadaun, SP Rural (Ghaziabad).
Muzaffarnagar, August 27
Two persons were challaned for spreading fake information after they blamed two innocent people of kidnapping a child. “Two people told villagers that two bike-borne men had kidnapped an eight-year-old, leading to confusion and panic. We found that the information was fake and took action against them,” said an official from Bhaura Kalan police station.
Shamli, August 26
Five women (in their 40s) from Gujarat’s Surat were brutally attacked by a mob in Kairana’s Afganan Ghosa locality Monday afternoon. One of them was carrying her baby. The mob claimed that the women were the members of a child lifter’s gang.
“We rescued the women and took them to Kairana Police Station, but the crowd followed us. Two women in the crowd claimed that the victims had tried to abduct their kids. We had to use mild force to disperse the crowd,” Yashpal Dhama, in charge of Kairana Kotwali police station told The Indian Express on phone. A case has been registered against unidentified people. One Raghav (34), who was making a video of the incident, has been arrested.
“The women told us that they earn their livelihood by selling rope for cots and reached Kairana on Sunday with a large stock of special ropes prepared by them in Surat,” said Dhama.
Meerut, August 26
A 40-year-old beggar was beaten up by a mob on suspicion of child lifting in Meerut’s Lisadi Gate area on Monday.
“Tehseem invited trouble when he entered a house. A woman there raised an alarm. A dozen people rushed to her house and were told that he had come to abduct her five-year-old son. This infuriated the crowd and they beat him up. We rescued Tehseem,” said Nazeer Ahmed, in charge of Lisadi Gate Police Station. No FIR has been lodged, he said.
Ghaziabad, August 25
Four people were arrested by police for disturbing peace in Ghaziabad’s Akash Nagar after they allegedly spread a rumor that two men had kidnapped a minor. The two were cornered by a mob and roughed up. Police said the arrests were made to send the message that such rumour mongering won’t be tolerated. Police said fake WhatsApp messages and unconnected videos are often forwarded to rile the crowd in such cases.
Muzaffarnagar, August 25
A mob thrashed a mentally-challenged woman in Bhainsee village of Khatauli town on Sunday night. Police said she was mistaken as a child lifter. She was rescued by police. “No FIR has been lodged,” said Navratan Gautam, in charge of Khatauli Police Station.
Meerut, August 25
A 25-year-old man, who used to sell herbal medicines, faced the wrath of a mob on Sunday as he was falsely accused of being a member of a child kidnapping gag. Azad was saved by police. “We have arrested eight people and raids are being conducted to nab others who have been identified on the basis of a mobile video of the incident,” said Rojan Tyagi, in charge of Kithore Police Station.
Meerut, August 24
A 47-year-old sugar mill worker was beaten badly by a crowd on Saturday. “Ranveer Chauhan was left unconscious and he somehow reached home. He succumbed to his injuries on Sunday while being taken to a hospital. Five persons were arrested,” said Vinay Azad, in- charge of Mawana Police Station.
Dasna, August 22
A mentally challenged man traveling in a train was beaten up at Dasna railway station as the crowd suspected he was kidnapping a child. He was rescued by Railway Police officials but not before he sustained injuries.
With inputs from Amil Bhatnagar, Noida