Guwahati: Two men in their 30s were beaten to death by a mob on Friday after they were mistaken for child kidnappers in Assam's Karbi Anglong, police said. Sixteen people have so far been arrested.
- Abhijeet Nath and Nilotpal Das were reportedly headed for a tourist spot
- Locals suspected them to be kidnappers and pulled them out of their SUV
- The two men were beaten to death as onlookers shot videos of the attack
Amid rumours on social media about the presence of child kidnappers in Dokmoka in West Karbi Anglong district, locals suspected Abhijeet Nath and Nilotpal Das, who were travelling to Dokmoka in their car, to be kidnappers and attacked them.
According to police sources, locals spotted "two suspicious" persons in Panjari Kachari Village on Friday evening. Their "long hair" and the SUV they were driving apparently aroused the suspicion of the villagers, police sources said.
The two men were reportedly headed for Kangthilangso, about 10 kilometres from Dengaon, which is known for its scenic waterfalls.
Around 8 pm, locals attacked their vehicle and pulled them out of the car. When the two men tried to escape, they were tied up and brutally assaulted. They were kicked, punched, dragged and beaten with sticks.
In a video that surfaced on Saturday, Nilotpal Das, his hands tied using a yellow nylon rope, is seen pleading with the locals. He tells he is an Assamese and begs them not to kill him.
"Don't kill me...please don't beat me. I am an Assamese. Believe me, I am speaking the truth. My father's name is Gopal Chandra Das and mother's name is Radhika Das...please let me go," he is heard in the video.
But the attackers refused to believe and continued to thrash them. While the onlookers were busy capturing the attack on their cellphones, someone called the cops.
The police took the men to the hospital, but they bled to death on the way. Their families were informed and they were cremated late last night.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal condemned the incident and directed the Additional Director General of Assam Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal to begin investigation.
"It is condemnable that people are being killed after being influenced by rumours and superstition," the Chief Minister said.
"We have the cellphones of both the victims. We have also seized the mobile phones used to shoot the attack. Investigations are underway," said Mr Agrawal.
Nilotpal Das was a sound engineer and worked out of Mumbai and Goa, while Abhijeet Nath had his own business.
The incident had a spillover effect in the adjoining areas. In Jamunamukh, locals thrashed two suspected child kidnappers on Saturday. The government asked all police stations to be remain vigilant.
Mobile internet and SMS services were also suspended for a few hours in Guwahati to prevent spread of rumours. Internet was restored this morning.
The opposition used the incident to attack the state government for its "utter failure" to maintain law and order. Debabrata Saikia, leader of the opposition in the state assembly, has demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.