Describing the Dhule lynching incident as “very painful and cruel”, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday, 2 July, announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the deceased.
Five people belonging to a nomadic community were allegedly lynched by a mob yesterday on suspicion that they were members of a gang of "child-lifters". The incident took place in Sakri town in Dhule district.
It is a very painful incident. The way five people were killed merely on the basis of suspicion is unfortunate and cruel. The police have acted swiftly in this case and the people (involved in the incident) are being arrested.Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra CM
Twenty-three persons have been arrested in connection with the incident, Dhule Superintendent of Police M Ramkumar said on Monday, 2 July.
“The accused hail from a tribal village where WhatsApp posts pertaining to child kidnappers had gone viral. Based on the posts, the mob suspected them to be child lifters and thrashed them to death,” he said.
Internet services were suspended in Sakri for 72 hours on Monday, Ramakumar told The Quint.
According to police, the victims have been identified as Dadarao Shankarao Bhosale, his brother Bharat, Bharat Malve, Aappa Ingole and Raju Bhosale, The Indian Express reported. Two policemen were also injured in the incident.
The bodies have been moved to the rural hospital in Pimpalner. Police teams maintained a vigil in the Rainpada area under the supervision of IG (Nashik range) Chhering Dorje and other senior officers, an official told PTI.
According to the police, the five along with a few others, were seen getting down from a state transport bus in the tribal Rainpada hamlet, PTI reported. When one of them apparently tried to speak to a girl child, villagers, who had gathered for the weekly Sunday bazaar, pounced on them, the news agency reported.
“They’ll Kill People & Steal Kidneys”
Rainpada resident Sakaram Mahipat Pawar, told ANI that there were rumours that these five people had come to “kill villagers and take their kidneys.”
It was suspected that these five people came to kill villagers and take their kidneys. I stopped the mob but they assaulted me too. Five-six police personnel were present during this incident but they (the mob) beat them too. The police ran away, while the mob carried weapons like sticks, iron rods. I have never seen such a incident in my entire life it was very violent and scary.Sakaram Mahipat Pawar, Resident
Another resident, Saptu Kharbaw Bagul told ANI that it was important to know who started rumours about the victims.
The biggest question is that who told this mob that these people were child-lifters. I have never see such incidents in my life. This incident is scary because this happened in middle (chowk) of the village.Saptu Kharbaw Bagul, Resident
Govt Promises Stern Action
Earlier, Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar promised stern action against the culprits and appealed to people to stop falling for rumours circulated on social media.
Maharashtra DGP Datta Padsalgikar also appealed to people to not believe in rumours.
On receipt of such rumours, people should contact local police for verification and after verification police should take necessary action, he said.
The DGP further advised that no one should forward the received messages/rumours on WhatsApp or any other social media without verification.
Spate of Incidents of Lynching Over Social Media Rumours
According to the daily, in a similar incident in Chennai, a duo was attacked by locals on the suspicion of child abduction. On 28 June, three separate incidents of lynching were reported in Tripura. A hawker was lynched and two others were injured after a mob attacked them on the suspicion of being child-lifters.
In another case, a man hired by the Tripura Information and Culture department to spread awareness against rumour-mongering was lynched.
On 8 June, two young men from Guwahati were lynched in Dokmoka in West Karbi Anglong district of Assam, allegedly because they were suspected to be “child lifters.”