A mob lynched an alleged rapist after storming a central jail in Nagaland's Dimapur town and dragging him out around 6 pm on Thursday. At least 20 people were injured when police opened fire to disperse the mob that torched and damaged a few police vehicles.
The man, identified as Syed Farid Khan, a 35-year-old dealer of used cars, died before he could be rescued by the police and taken to a hospital. A migrant Muslim from Assam, he was suspected to be a Bangladeshi national.
“The situation is very tense. We are trying our best to restore order,” Dimapur superintendent of police Meren Jamir said.
Deputy commissioner Wezope Kenye said tension had been brewing in Dimapur – Nagaland’s commercial hub – after a complaint was lodged against Khan for allegedly raping a Naga girl several times on February 23.
Several organisations led by Naga Students’ Federation and Naga Women Hoho on Wednesday called a shutdown seeking stern action against Khan. The situation went out of control with the protestors vandalising at least 20 shops belonging to non-locals.
The district authorities subsequently promulgated Section 144 but that did not stop thousands of locals from marching to the office of Dimapur Municipal Council on Thursday, demanding cancellation of trade license to all Bengali-speaking Muslims.
From there, the protesters marched toward the jail located 7km away, tore down two gates and took custody of Khan, stripped and pulled him to the town’s landmark Clock Tower where a public hanging had been planned.
But the accused, thrashed all along, succumbed to his injuries on the way. The protesters tied his limp body to a two-wheeler and dragged it to the Clock Tower and strung it up.
The police, outnumbered, kept a distance while Khan was being dragged, but arrived after his body was put up for display. They fired blanks to disperse the protestors who retaliated by pelting stones and torched more than 10 police vehicles.
While the police ordered a probe into the “Bastille-like storming”, jail authorities said they were helpless against the irate mob. An official said they were assessing the damage but feared some prisoners might have escaped during the public raid.