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Millennium Post

Disturbing trend

Disturbing trend

Over the last two months, a disturbing trend has emerged in which innocent people have beaten up to death in different parts of the country on the suspicion of being child-lifters and robbers. The earliest case in the series of recent mob lynchings was reported on May 18 from Jharkhand where eight people were lynched in nine days on suspicion that they were part of child-stealing gangs. And, the latest such incident took place in Maharashtra's Dhule district on July 1 in which five persons were killed on suspicion of being child lifters. In June itself, 14 people were killed in different lynching incidents in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Maharashtra, Bengal, Telangana Gujarat and Karnataka. The common thread among the series of mob lynchings is the rumour doing the rounds on social media and WhatsApp that gangs of child lifters are on the prowl in their vicinity. The five people killed in Maharashtra were part of a poor tribal family, who had just got off from a state transport bus at a weekly Sunday market. One of them apparently talked to a girl child and soon the entire crowd present at the market pounced at them. The police said that a rumour was doing the round on WhatsApp that child kidnappers are roaming around looking for prey. In the last two months, nearly 30 people have been lynched by bloodthirsty mobs on the suspicion of being child-lifters. On June 28, three people were lynched while two others were critically injured in separate incidents in Tripura. The mob that attacked these hapless people were infuriated at the murder of an 11-year-old boy who was missing for some time. Locals claimed that his kidneys were missing while the police after the postmortem report said all his organs were intact. One of the men lynched in Tripura was actually a person who went from village to village and asked people not to believe rumours about child-lifters being spread on WhatsApp. He was hired by the Information and Culture Department of the state. On June 27, a 45-year-old woman beggar was lynched and three others seriously injured in Ahmedabad by a mob of 30 people on suspicion of being child lifters. At the time of the attack, the victim was travelling in an auto along with two other women. On June 13, an unidentified man was tied to an electricity post and beaten to death by a mob in the Malda district of West Bengal. The homeless man in his thirties was asked why he had come to Bulbulchandi-Dubapara village in Habibpur. Dissatisfied by his answer, the mob beat him to death. On June 8, two youths from Guwahati were beaten to death in Assam's Karbi Anglong district on suspicion of being child lifters. The victims were in their thirties and had gone to Karbi Anglong for a short vacation from Guwahati. Eyewitnesses said a mob of inebriated villagers hit them brutally with bamboo poles and wood. Similar incidents of mob frenzy leading to the death of the victims were reported from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. On Monday, two men were thrashed in Chennai over rumours that they were trying to kidnap a child. Eventually, it turned out that the men were migrant labourers working with the Chennai metro.

These incidents of mob justice meted out to innocent people have not got the media attention in the country that they deserve. But in a world, where news from any part of the world is only a click away, the lynching of people by irate mobs on a routine basis has shocked people in many parts of the world who believe India is a modern country administered by the law of the land. Besides doing irreparable damage to the image of the country, these incidents have also instilled fear among the people. From poor beggars and people of the nomadic tribe to city dwellers, the victims have been just anybody and they have been taken by surprise when the angry mob came for them. The sense of insecurity that it engenders among the common people is a matter of concern. While it is true that a large number of children go missing every day and remain traceless, catching people and beating them to death on mere suspicion and rumours is neither a solution nor justified. Instead of displaying a mob hysteria, it is better to inform the police about any suspicious activity of a person. The government and the police need to crack down on the people who spread baseless rumours on social media.

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