3 lynched in Palghar after rumours over mistaken identity

Police say mob of villagers was on the lookout for thieves

Published - April 18, 2020 01:15 am IST - Mumbai

Tension prevailed in the Jawahar area in Palghar district after three Mumbai residents, travelling in a Ford Ecosport to Silvassa, were allegedly lynched late on Thursday night.

The Kasa police said the incident occurred near Gadakchinchale village under their jurisdiction.

“Information received by us indicates that the three occupants of the SUV hailed form Kandivali in Mumbai and were going to attend a funeral in Silvassa,” Superintendent of Police Gaurav Singh, Palghar police said.

A large mob of villagers surrounded the car within a matter of minutes and started attacking it with sticks, irons rods and their bare hands, leading to the death of all three occupants.

“One of our patrolling vehicles later spotted the severely injured trio lying on the road and stopped to investigate. However, our team was also attacked by the mob and the vehicle pelted with stones. Our personnel had to flee and were unable to rescue to the victims,” an officer with the Kasa police said.

A wireless alert was sent out later apprising all police stations and units of the incident following which reinforcements were sent to the village and a combing operation was undertaken.

“Prima facie information indicates that the trio were mistaken for thieves and attacked. The villagers were on edge due to the ongoing lockdown and unavailability of essential supplies. For the past few days, several rumours have been doing the rounds on social media about thieves and dacoits targetting villages on the highway. As a result, villagers have been patrolling the highway and stopping late night travellers on suspicion,” the officer said.

The victims are believed to have be local religious leaders from Kandivali, who had first tried to take the National Highway to Silvassa but were stopped by police officials enforcing the lockdown. They seem to have then decided to take the longer route through Vikramgadh in Palghar.

Mr. Singh added that scores of people had been detained by late Friday evening and the process of registering FIRs was on.

Meanwhile, the Palghar police on Friday issued several advisories, including voice notes in local dialects on WhatsApp, urging people to not believe in the rumours being spread.

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