Five persons were beaten to death by a mob in Maharashtra’s Dhule district on Sunday afternoon, on suspicion of being child-lifters.
The five were among a group of seven-eight people assaulted by the mob at the tribal Rainpada hamlet in Sakri tehsil, 330 km from here.
“Preliminary reports suggest that the group of men were seen disembarking from a State Transport bus. When one of them attempted to speak to a girl child, a crowd which had gathered for the Sunday bazaar mistook the strangers for child-lifters and swooped upon them,” said a police official, adding that rumours of a gang of child-lifters on the prowl in Sakri prompted the mob to vigilante action.
Without ascertaining the identity of the strangers, the mob dragged them to the Rainpada Gram Panchayat office and beat them with sticks and other objects.
Five persons were killed in the violence, with the area outside the panchayat office spotted with blood.
The fury of the mob did not spare even the police team which arrived on the spot to pacify it. Two policemen were injured.
All five deceased, whose bodies were taken to a local hospital, hailed from Solapur district, said authorities. They are yet to be identified. Chhering Dorje, Special IG, Nashik Range, has rushed to the spot. More policemen are being deployed from neighbouring districts.
Appeal to residents
The police have appealed to residents of Sakri to show restraint and stop believing rumours doing the rounds on social media.
“The unfortunate incident appears to be a case of false rumours going viral on social media. An investigation will be conducted into the case and stern action will be taken against the miscreants,” said Shiv Sena leader Dada Bhuse, the Guardian Minister of Dhule.
Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar will be visiting the district tomorrow to review the situation.
A series of similar incidents has rocked the State’s rural hinterland, with people being beaten or killed simply on suspicion of being child-lifters or thieves owing to false rumours on social media.
Last month, two persons from the nomadic Pardhi community were brutally beaten to death and six more seriously injured by a mob in Aurangabad district’s Vaijapur tehsil on suspicion of being robbers.
On June 15, three people, including a woman, sustained injuries after being beaten up by mobs that were triggered by rumours in two separate incidents in Aurangabad.
A woman from Ranjangaon village, who was looking for a house on rent, was assaulted by a mob in Valuj in Aurangabad on allegations of being a child lifter.
A video recording of the incident showing the woman being mercilessly beaten by the unthinking mob did the rounds of social media. The lady was later rescued by the local police.
In the second case, two persons from Madhya Pradesh were beaten by a mob in Padegaon on suspicion of being thieves.