A person was killed by a mob in West Bengal's Asansol on Wednesday on suspicion of being a child lifter, police said. One person has been arrested and several others have been detained by the police for their alleged involvement in the incident.
The incident took place barely a fortnight after the West Bengal assembly passed a bill on August 30 against mob assault and incidents of lynching with provision for life imprisonment to those injuring a person and capital punishment for causing death.
According to officials of Asansol Durgapur Police Commissionerate, the unidentified person aged between 35 to 40 years was tied to a lamp post and beaten up on suspicion of being a child lifter.
He was later untied and beaten again by the mob, they said.
A huge police contingent rushed to the spot on being informed about the incident and rescued the man, who later died due to his injuries in a state run hospital, the officials said.
"We are yet to identify the person. We have arrested one person and have detained few others on the basis of video clippings of the incident that went viral," a senior police official said.
"We have started an investigation into the case," he added.
The West Bengal (Prevention of Lynching) Bill, 2019, was passed by a voice vote on August 30 in the Assembly in the aftermath of a string of incidents in which people were beaten to death over rumours of cattle smuggling and child lifting.
It has provision of jail term for three years to life imprisonment in cases of assault leading to injury, besides a fine ranging from Rs one lakh to Rs three lakh.
In the event of the victim's death, the attackers would be punished with death sentence or rigorous life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.
This is the second incident of lynching in West Bengal after the passage of the bill on August 30.
On September 4, a mason Khabir Sheikh died after he was beaten up by unidentified people inside a clinic. He was declared dead on arrival at Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital.
Three other incidents of assault had been reported from various parts of the state but the victims had survived.
The incidents of mob killing have kicked up a political debate in the state with Trinamool Congress and the BJP blaming each other for the incident.
"In the incidents of lynching law will take its own course. But I would like to mention that wherever BJP is in power or is trying to gain ground, there have been rampant incidents of lynchings," senior TMC leader and West Bengal minister Firhad Hakim said.
"The BJP and its affiliates support lynching and use it as a tool to terrorize people," he added.
The BJP, which has made deep inroads in the state and look to de-seat the Mamata Banerjee government in the 2021 assembly polls, has termed the allegations against it as baseless.
"In none of these incidents no BJP leader nor worker was involved. Actually these lynchings prove that law and order has gone for a toss in Bengal under the TMC regime," state party president Dilip Ghosh said.
State Congress president Somen Mitra said the state government has failed to control incidents of mob killing and should take stern action against the culprits.
Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sujan Chakraborty criticised the TMC government and said though the state has passed the bill, it has failed to control incidents of lynching and mob assault.
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