A man was lynched and three others injured in Assam’s Biswanath district after a mob assaulted them on suspicion of cattle theft early on Thursday morning, police said. Deben Rajbongshi, 35, and three others were attacked at Line No.15 area of the Diplunga Tea estate under the Sootea police station in Biswanath. Rajbongshi succumbed, while the three others — Phoolchan Sahoo, Bijay Nayak and Pujan Ghatowar — were being treated at a hospital. Their condition was said to be stable. A fifth person reportedly managed to escape the attack.
Police claimed they have recovered two cows with the ‘tempo’ (pick-up vehicle) the victims were travelling in. The victims, police said, belonged to an area a few kilometres from the spot where they were attacked. The survivors said that they were in the area to buy pigs when around 30 people attacked them. Police said the victims were stopped by a mob around 3.30 am, and they were asked what they were doing in the area so late in the night.
“We got information about the attack at 4.20 am. We rushed to the spot and rescued four people. One of them succumbed later,” Biswanath SP Diganta Kumar Choudhury said. In a grainy video that emerged Thursday, it seems the mob mistook the victims as Muslims. In the purported video, the mob asks the blood-soaked victims, “What are you all doing here so late in the night?” One of the victims replies, “We had come to buy pigs.”
The mob then screams back at them saying, “Miyas (a term used to refer to Muslims) do not trade pigs, do they?”, upon which one of the victims swore that he is not a Miya. Police have raised doubts over the survivors’ claim that they were in the area to buy pigs, saying that it was unlikely that anyone would have called them to sell pigs that late in the night.
SP Choudhury pointed out that the two cows recovered from the spot belong to Shankar Tanti, a resident of the area. “Tanti realised that two of his cows were missing from the cowshed and raised an alarm that led to villagers coming out and stopping the vehicle in which the four people were travelling. We were told that four cow thieves have been attacked after they were nabbed by local residents with the cows. Tanti has filed another FIR, alleging that his cows were stolen,” Choudhury said.