The families of five persons who were killed in a horrifying mob attack on Sunday after being suspected to be kidnappers refused to accept their bodies today, seeking justice and compensation.
The distraught families of the victims on Monday staged a sit-in protest demanding police action against the culprits involved in the lynching and suitable compensation.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called the incident "unfortunate".
"We have already begun investigation in the matter... the state government has decided to give Rs. 5 lakh as compensation to victims' families," Mr Fadnavis told news agency ANI.
Members of the Nath Gosavi community staged a noisy protest outside the Satara district collectorate office demanding justice for the victims and punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
On Sunday afternoon, seven mendicants (bhikshuks) belonging to the Nath Gosavi community had stopped in Rainpada village, around 140km from Dhule to go a weekly Sunday market there. The tribe goes door to door to collect food and had boarded a bus from Solapur, reportedly their hometown.
They had reportedly gone to ask for food at one house where one of them tried speaking to a child. Mistaking them to be child-lifters, a large number of villagers attacked them. They even locked them in a room, hitting them with bricks and stones and did not stop till they dropped to the ground, bloodied.
The raging mob attack was reportedly due to rumours about a gang of kidnappers in the area. The rumours were circulated widely on social media for a few days.
When the police arrived and gathered the battered bodies in a car, the crowd demanded that two of the bodies be taken down as they wanted to check that the men were dead. When a policeman refused, he was attacked as well.
Their bodies were later shifted to Pimpalner hospital for autopsy and twenty three people have been arrested in the case.
In the recent weeks there have been several such incidents across Maharashtra including Aurangabad, Malegaon and Jalna. Similar mob attacks have been reported from Assam and Tripura as well.
(With inputs from agencies)