Ranchi: At least 19 people have been arrested three days after seven people were beaten to death by a violent mob in two separate incidents in Jharkhand's Singhbhum district over suspicion of being child-lifters, police said. Rumours on social media, according to the police, led to the "unfortunate and unprecedented" incidents.
- Seven beaten to death in separate incidents in Jharkhand last week
- Mobs suspected the victims of being child-lifters
- Rumours on social media led to the "unfortunate" incidents, say police
The three men - Vikas Kumar Verma, Gautam Kumar Verma and Gangesh Gupta - were beaten to death in Nagadih as villagers accused them of kidnapping children. Vikas and Gautam's grandmother too was also brutally assaulted.
Police say rumours of child-lifting had been swirling in the region. In Rajanagar, four people were brutally killed in Shobhapur and Sosomouli villages after locals suspected them to be members of a kidnapping gang, a senior cop said.
Speaking to NDTV, the IG Operations of Jharkhand Ashish Batra said that messages on WhatsApp, claiming that children could be kidnapped by a gang and their body parts are sold, went viral in these villages. This, he said, could have driven villagers to commit such brutal killings.
Calling the incidents "unfortunate", Mr Batra said,"rumour mongering terrorised local tribals who are traditionally simple people."
When the police reached the villages in both cases, they were reportedly completely outnumbered by the mobs. Villagers allegedly turned on the policemen and attacked them, leaving some of them injured. Cars and police jeeps were also targeted and set on fire by the villagers.
When questioned about whether the police failed to pre-empt and prevent these incidents, he said, "The gestation period of this problem was short... There were incidents that were averted by the intervention of the police."
The cops are trying to find the origin of the WhatsApp messages and claim to have identified suspects.
So far, 19 people have been arrested for the killings and the violent clashes that broke out in their aftermath.
On Saturday, hundreds of villagers clashed with the police in the Jamshedpur region, protesting the killing of the six men over suspicion of being child-lifters. Cops had to resort to lathi-charge and used tear gas at some places to control angry protesters.