- The men who were killed were reportedly from Solapur district
- 15 people have been taken into custody in connection with the incident
- Police said rumours about a gang of child kidnappers active in the area
Five people who were suspected of being child kidnappers were killed by villagers in Maharashtra's Dhule on Sunday, police said. Twelve people have been arrested. The five, along with a few others, were seen getting off a state transport bus in the tribal Rainpada village, about 140 km from Dhule town.
The five men, who belonged to a nomadic community, had gone to a house to ask for food. When one of them reportedly tried to speak to a child, villagers, who were around for the weekly Sunday market, suspected him to be a kidnapper and began to thrash him, they said.
Soon others joined them and the five were killed in mob violence, police said. According to reports, two men from the group of seven managed to escape. All the people who have been arrested are between 20 and 30 years.
The men who were killed were reportedly from Solapur district of Maharashtra. It's still not clear why the men had come to Rainpada.
According to police, rumours about a gang of child kidnappers active in the area had been doing the rounds for the last few days. Top officers are on the spot and investigations are underway.
The bodies have been sent to a hospital in nearby Pimpalner and will be taken to Solapur for the last rites.
In Assam's Guwahati, a woman with special needs was tied to a pole and tortured by a village mob. They, too, suspected her to be a kidnapper, police said.
The woman was seen roaming around in a village in Sonitpur district on Friday night, Sonitpur Superintendent of Police Prithipal Singh said.
"Some people questioned her. But she could not reply properly. This led to suspicion among people that she was a 'sopadharaa' (child-lifter), and they tied her to a pole and tortured her," Mr Singh said.
Locals and personnel from the Village Defence Party (VDP) tried to stop the mob and alerted the police.
"Our team rushed to the spot and saved the woman. She received minor injuries," he said.
The social media-fuelled hysteria about gangs out on the streets to kidnap children has claimed many lives in several states.
A hawker from Uttar Pradesh was beaten to death by a mob in Tripura on Thursday on suspicions that the three men reached a town near state capital Agartala with a plan to kidnap children.
The same day, another mob in south Tripura killed a 33-year-old, who was spreading awareness against rumours about child kidnappers in rural areas.
In Tripura, rumours of a child kidnapping gang involved in organ harvesting were sparked off after an 11-year-old boy was found murdered.
Last month, two friends who had gone to the Kangthilangso waterfalls in Assam's Karbi Anglong, were beaten to death by villagers who suspected them of being child kidnappers.