A man was killed and his brother was injured after a group thrashed them over rumours that they were on the prowl to kidnap children in western Uttar Pradesh's Sambhal. In a similar incident, a woman who was taking her grandson for shopping in Ghaziabad near Delhi was thrashed by a mob over allegations that she was a child kidnapper.
In Sambhal, the two brothers were taking their nephew, who was suffering from an illness, to a doctor when the group confronted them and accused them of kidnapping the boy.
In a video, the men are seen lying on the ground as blows land on them. They pleaded they were innocent as the group, armed with sticks and iron rods, hit them mercilessly and accused them of kidnapping.
Villagers in western Uttar Pradesh have been on the edge over rumours of child kidnappers prowling in the area. At least
At least 12 cases of mob assault on people accused of kidnapping have been reported from Bulandshahr district in the last one month, the police said.
In Ghaziabad, a video of the woman being thrashed by the mob was circulated on social media.
The Uttar Pradesh Police said they are taking action in all the cases to stop the rumours and the attacks fuelled by them.
"In the last few days, people have been beaten up on accusations of child lifting by mobs in some districts. We analysed the incidents; there is no issue of child lifting. These are rumours spread by antisocial elements. So far 44 people have been arrested," senior police officer PV Ramasastry told news agency ANI.
Rumours of child kidnappers that are shared on social media, especially WhatsApp, have from time to time led to assaults on innocent people. These incidents have been reported from across the country.
In July last year, a 32-year-old software engineer was beaten to death and three others - one of them a Qatar national - were seriously injured over WhatsApp-driven rumours of child kidnapping in Karnataka's Bidar. The police said the mob frenzy started after the man from Qatar was seen distributing chocolates to local children.
Rumours of child kidnapping were doing the rounds in the area and seeing the chocolates being handed out, residents of a nearby village sent messages on a WhatsApp group, leading to the deadly assault.
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