The police has arrested the main accused in the case where five men were beaten by a mob in Maharashtra's Dhule district on suspicion of child lifting, an official said today.
Maharu Pawar, 22, was arrested from neighbouring Nandurbar district yesterday, Dhule Superintendent of Police M Ramkumar told news agency PTI.
"Maharu Pawar was missing since Sunday - the day of the incident - and was hiding in neighbouring Nandurbar," he said. "Our team was searching for him and was able to trace him down and arrest him," he confirmed.
In a video of the incident that went viral on social media, Maharu Pawar was purportedly seen leading the mob while thrashing the five men with sticks and rods, Mr Ramkumar said.
Pawar is the twenty-fourth person arrested in the case, the Superintendent of Police said, adding that a search was on for some more accused.
On July 1, five men of a nomadic tribe were beaten by a mob in Rainpada village in Maharashtra's Dhule on the suspicion of being child-lifters.
According to the videos which went viral, one of the five victims apparently tried to speak to a six-year-old girl after which they were pounced upon, stoned and thrashed with sticks and slippers.
The provocation was apparently some rumour on social media which suggested that a gang of child-lifters was active in the area.
According to police officials and locals, the victims were first attacked by a group of "highly inebriated" people in Kakar pada village. The five men were then brought to the adjoining Rainpada village while being continuously thrashed along the one-km stretch.
The police received a distress call around 11 am on July 1 and they reached the spot around 12 noon, a distance of nearly 40 km, Pimpalner's assistant police inspector Yogesh Khatkal had earlier said.
He said there was a crowd of about 3,000 people when they reached the site of the incident. "When we reached there, all the five were dead," Mr Khatkal had said.
The tribals had arrived there on Saturday night and had planned to go to the police station on Sunday to register themselves. The victims belonged to the nomadic Nath Gosavi community who move from place to place in Maharashtra in search of food and work.
Whenever people from this community visit a village, they report to the local police station about their stay.
Incidents of mob violence triggered by rumours claimed 10 lives in 14 incidents in Maharashtra during the last one-and-a-half months, the police had earlier said.
In the wake of the horrific crime, the police decided to compile data of mob violence so as to devise a preventive strategy, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Bipin Bihari had said.