Chennai

When panic strikes and humanity dies

Police and villagers of Pulicat holding a meeting in a temple after a 45-year-old man was beaten to death and hung from the Pulicat bridge in Tiruvallur district on Wednesday night.

Police and villagers of Pulicat holding a meeting in a temple after a 45-year-old man was beaten to death and hung from the Pulicat bridge in Tiruvallur district on Wednesday night.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

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Police have warned people not to attack strangers; say stern action will be taken in such cases

After a mob beat a man to death and hung him from a bridge, mistaking him to be a kidnapper in Pulicat on Wednesday, the police on Thursday launched an investigation into the incident.

The police found that the man was a Tamil though the mob had raised slogans that he was a north Indian who had come to take their kids away. “We are yet to find his name. He has been in the locality for nearly two years and the same villagers have been giving him alms. We do not understand how they suddenly had a case of mistaken identity,” added a police officer.

Villagers said the mob attacked him as he was carrying a knife. “There have been rumours about a north Indian gang that has been going to the villages and kidnapping children. People are alert now. However, it was wrong to have killed him,” said Sikander, a villager.

Bharati, a resident of Arangam hamlet in Light House Panchayat, said though no incident of kidnap was reported in the fishing hamlets, they have heard rumours that a man with knives was caught at nearby Vairavan Kuppam.

Following the incident, the police held a meeting with the villagers to investigate the issue. “We have registered a case of murder and sent the body for post-mortem to Ponneri government hospital,” said an officer.

23 held at village

A day after a group of villagers of Athimoor in Polur taluk of Tiruvannamalai beat an elderly woman to death and injured four others, mistaking them for child-lifters, the police arrested 23 persons. They were booked on charges including murder and attempt to murder.

On Wednesday, a mob assaulted the five persons, who had travelled from Chennai to Athimoor village in search of their kula deivam (family deity) temple. Rukmani, a resident of Old Pallavaram in Chennai, died on the spot, while four others, including two relatives, who had come from Malaysia, sustained injuries.

Following the incident, the police secured 67 persons from the village for inquiry and arrested 23.

Recent incidents

Over the past few months, lynching and attacks on strangers have been common in the villages of north Tamil Nadu districts. A few weeks ago, a north Indian was beaten to death in Chinnayanchatiram in Kancheepuram district. Similarly, a 55-year old woman was murdered in Athimoor village in Polur district in Tiruvannamalai after being mistaken for a kidnapper.

In the last two days, the police have rescued three persons, including an old lady, who were caught by villagers in Vembakkam, Ponneri and Kolur near Pulicat, thinking they were kidnappers. “There has not been a single child kidnap case reported. In the last one month, we have rescued 13 persons from Vellore, Cuddalore, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur,” said a senior police officer.

Police warning

The Chennai police have assigned numbers and are also using the public address system and pamphlets to inform people not to attack strangers. “We are also warning them of stern action. We are also holding meetings with villagers to allay their fears,” said an officer.

The police will be slapping cases against people who spread rumours. “Our cyber cell has started tracking those who create and forward such messages,” said an officer.

In Kancheepuram, the police, who earlier urged the people through public address systems not to take the law into their own hand if they were suspicious of the movement of strangers in their locality, on Thursday again made an announcement that movement of “suspected persons” be brought to the notice of the police immediately.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 8:28:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/when-panic-strikes-and-humanity-dies/article23842333.ece

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