WhatsApp hoax triggers lynching of two others in Maharashtra's Aurangabad.
Two Muslim men were allegedly lynched by a group of enraged villagers on suspicion of cattle theft in Jharkhand's Godda district, the police said on Wednesday.
Deputy Inspector General (Santal Paragana) Akhilesh Kumar Jha said five people had allegedly stolen buffaloes from the house of Munshi Murmu and others in tribal-dominated Dullu village last night.
Finding the buffaloes missing, Murmu and other villagers gave a chase to the five people, who were caught in adjoining Bankati village with the cattle in the early hours on Wednesday.
The enraged villagers thrashed Sirabuddin Ansari, 35, and Murtaza Ansari, 30, to death. The three others managed to flee, Jha said.
Four persons, including Murmu, have been arrested in this connection so far.
The victims were residents of Taljhari in the district, about 200 km from Ranchi, Superintendent of Police Rajeev Ranjan Singh said.
Adequate police force, along with a magistrate, had been deployed in the village to maintain law and order, Jha said.
The situation in the village was under control, the officer said.
The SP, who rushed to the spot, said according to the villagers, the five people had stolen 13 buffaloes last night.
On finding their cattle missing, the villagers launched a search. The residents of Bankati, who were also alerted, caught the two accused.
After lynching the duo, the accused villagers brought the bodies back to Dullu village on bi-cycles, the SP said.
Singh, who is camping in the village, said the stolen cattle had been recovered.
A theft case was registered based on a complaint by the villagers. Four persons, including Murmu, were booked under relevant Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to murder and riot, he said.
All the four villagers have been arrested. The incident was a simple case of theft, Singh claimed.
In March last year, a Jharkhand court had convicted a local Bharatiya Janata Party worker and 10 others for lynching a Muslim trader in June 2017. The convicts had beaten a 55-year-old man to death in Ramgarh district on suspicion of carrying beef in his van.
This is second incident of lynching in the past few days that was allegedly triggered by fake messages in circulation on the social media.
Police said a mob of at least 1,500 villagers allegedly attacked nine men with wooden sticks after nabbing them from near a farm in the village on Friday morning.
A Vaijapur police station official said some fake messages about the presence of a 'gang of robbers' were doing rounds on Whatsapp and the incident was fallout of these rumours.
"Following the rumours, villagers were maintaining a vigil in night hours," said Assistant Police Inspector Ram Hari Yadav.
The official said police rushed to the spot after they received a call from a villager, informing that they had caught a gang of 'robbers'.
When police reached the village, they found nine men on the ground who had been brutally assaulted, he said. Police rushed the injured men to the rural hospital in Vaijapur, before shifting them to the GMCH (Government Medical College and Hospital) in Aurangabad, 70 km away from the village.
Yadav said two of the injured men succumbed to injuries on June 9 while another person is battling for life.
The deceased are identified as Bharat Sonavne and Shivaji Shinde, he said.
Police have booked more than 400 villages on charges of murder and attempt to murder in the case.
However, no arrests have been made so far.
Police are investigating the background of the nine men, the official said, adding that details like the reason behind the presence of the men in the village on the day of the incident will come out during the probe.
Aurangabad (Rural) SP Arti Singh today said the lynching occurred in the wake of certain fake messages and posts being circulated on Whatsapp in the village about the presence of a gang of robbers.
The SP said senior police officers have been directed to initiate necessary action to curb such fake messages on WhatsApp and other social media.
In separate incidents of lynching last month, two men were allegedly beaten to death by a group of villagers in Telangana on suspicion of being thieves.
In Assam, two men were pulled out of their vehicle in Karbi Anglong district last Friday and beaten to death by a group of irate villagers, who suspected them to be child-lifters.