- Mob locked 5 men in a room, hit them with bricks and stones
- The men were killed after rumours of child kidnappers active in the area
- Policeman was attacked by mob after he refused to show them the bodies
As the police prepared to take away five battered bodies after a horrifying mob attack in Maharashtra's Dhule on Sunday, villagers allegedly demanded that two of the bodies be taken out of the car just to be sure they were dead. A day after the killings, details reveal the extent of brutality at a village that was apparently driven by rumours of child-kidnapping on WhatsApp. Twenty-three people have been arrested and more are likely to be caught, the police say. All the accused are in their twenties.
"We have also identified some more accused in this case. Five teams have been formed to identify the accused," said senior police officer M Ramkumar.
Seven men from the Gosavi tribe, which goes from door to door to collect food, had arrived from Solapur in a state transport bus and had stopped at the Rainpada village, about 140 km from Dhule town.
They reportedly went to a house to ask for food and one of them tried to speak to a child when all hell broke loose. Villagers in the area attending a weekly Sunday market suspected that he was a kidnapper and attacked him.
Soon a raging mob descended on five of the men, locked them in a room and hit them with bricks and stones. They didn't stop until five were lying on the ground, limp and bloodied. According to reports, two of the men managed to escape.
The men who were killed were reportedly from Solapur district of Maharashtra.
The police say rumours about a gang of child kidnappers active in the area had been circulating on social media and WhatsApp for some days.
When the police arrived and gathered the 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 also attacked.
The mob killing in Maharashtra follows a disturbing pattern of rumours and lynching in many states.
Today, an incident was reported from Malegaon, also in Maharashtra, but the police were able to rescue those who were attacked. A family of five was attacked by a mob, again over kidnapping rumours.
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.
A hawker from Uttar Pradesh was beaten to death by a mob in Tripura on Thursday on the suspicion that he and two others were at the village near state capital Agartala to kidnap children.
The same day, another mob in south Tripura killed a 33-year-old, who, incidentally, was spreading awareness against rumours about child kidnappers.
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 also beaten to death over rumours.