One person was killed and three others injured in a mob attack near Agartala on Thursday after local residents presumed they were “child-lifters”, police said. Authorities have suspended SMS and mobile internet services across Tripura for 48 hours to prevent law and order problems.
The deceased has been identified as Zahir Khan (30) of Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh. Gulzar Ahmed Khan and Khurshid Khan from Bihar and Swapan Miya from Agartala were among those injured. Police are yet to give further details about the injured.
Miya was the local contact of the three, who were traders of small electric items. The four were travelling in a van when locals spotted them at Sidhai Mohanpur, around 25 km from Agartala, West District SP Ajit Pratap Singh said. “Due to a rumour in the area, people thought that those in the car were child abductors. Then they started assaulting the four. Police got the information at 9 am and we rushed (to the spot),” Singh said.
A thousand-strong mob had gathered on the spot and “as the police tried to retrieve the victims, tear gas shells were fired and even aerial firing had to be done,” a senior officer said. At least three policemen were injured, the officer said.
The injured are being treated at the GBP Hospital in Agartala. Their injuries are not “very serious” and they are likely to recover soon, an official at the hospital said.
The lynching is believed to be the outcome of rumours regarding alleged ‘child-lifters’ doing the rounds on social media in the area. The incident took place in the same area where an 11-year-old school student was found murdered on Tuesday, leading to unrest over a rumour that his kidneys were stolen.
Chief Minister Biplab Deb had on Wednesday clarified that the rumours were fake and the boy’s kidneys were found to be intact in the postmortem.