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2 Muslim men lynched on suspicion of cattle theft in Jharkhand

Last updated on: June 14, 2018 00:32 IST

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.

In another incident, two men were allegedly beaten to death and seven others were injured, one of them critically, after a mob of villagers attacked them on suspicion of being robbers in Chandgaon village in Vaijapur taluka of Aurangabad district of Maharashtra on June 8.

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.

Prime accused in Assam lynching held, had instigated villagers: DGP

The prime accused in the lynching of two men in Assam was arrested from Karbi Anglong district in the early hours on Wednesday, a senior police officer said.

Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia said the prime accused allegedly had an argument with the two men, following which he spread the rumour that they were child lifters, to instigate the villagers.

With Wednesday's development, the total number of people arrested in connection with the lynching of the two men and spreading hate messages and rumours following the incident in Karbi Anglong district on Friday has risen to 64, a police officer said.

Giving details of the incident, Saikia said, "The accused, Alfajoz Timung, was the only person who had interacted with Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, prior to their killing."

According to preliminary interrogation, the duo were sitting near the Kanglithangso waterfall when Timung approached them and an argument ensued after which both Das and Nath decided to leave, he told reporters.

Timung then called up the villagers and told them that there were two men in a vehicle who had kidnapped a child. He asked the villagers to intercept the car and detain the two, the DGP said.

The villagers, however, attacked the vehicle and lynched Das and Nath.

The mobile phone of Timung has been seized, and the call details and also those of the two victims are being examined, Saikia said, adding Timung had a murder case registered against him and was out on bail.

He was arrested from Belurghat area of Karbi Anglong district this morning after a massive search operation, Superintendent of Police S P Ganjala said.

Two friends -- Nilotpal Das, 29, and Abhijeet Nath, 30 -- were on Friday pulled out of their vehicle at Panjuri in Karbi Anglong district and beaten to death by a group of irate villagers, who suspected them to be child-lifters.

The DGP said that so far, 28 people have been arrested in the last four days in connection with the lynching and 'although most of the suspected assailants have been arrested, investigations will continue to ensure that all involved in the incident are apprehended'.

The police have also arrested 35 persons for posting hate messages and rumours on social media. Some others, mostly students, were also picked up but later released after counselling as they have assured the authorities that they will not indulge in spreading hate messages, Saikia said.

On whether prompt action by the police could have saved Das and Nath, the DGP said Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwala has been entrusted with the task to look into all aspects of the incident.

"If, according to investigations, there was any lapse by the police, no one will be spared," Saikia said, adding the ADGP will also investigate under what circumstances and when was the policeman reportedly seen recording video clips of the lynching incident.

"The video, however, has helped the police considerably in identifying the suspects but all aspects will be probed," the DGP said.

Meanwhile, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) has decided to give Rs five lakh each to the parents of the two deceased men and also instal their statues at the place where they were lynched, KAAC Chief Executive Member Tuliram Ronghang said.

The Council, which held a meeting with media, government officials and prominent citizens at Diphu on Tuesday evening, condemned the incident.

Ronghang said Karbis are a part and parcel of Assam and many tribal and non-tribals live in Karbi Anglong autonomous area, forming a greater Assamese society.

The Karbi Students' Association (KSA) and Karbi Sahitya Sabha, which met here under the aegis of the Asam Sahitya Sabha in Guwahati on Tuesday, have condemned the lynching.

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