15 arrested for lynching 2 in Assam; CM Sonowal appeals for calm
The lynching in Karbi Anglong sparked outrage against the police and local administration on social media platforms and among neighbours of the victims in Guwahati.india Updated: Jun 10, 2018 22:05 IST
Assam police have arrested 15 people in connection with the lynching of two men in the state’s Karbi Anglong district on Friday.
Nilotpal Das, 29, a sound engineer, and his friend Abhijeet Nath, 30, a businessman, were attacked by a mob near Panjuri Kacharigaon village, nearly 200km from the state capital, on suspicion of being child lifters.
Das, who is based in Goa, had came home to Guwahati recently and on Friday had left with his friend Nath for Kangthilangsho, a popular picnic spot known for waterfalls, and were on their way back when they were attacked. The sport-utility vehicle (SUV) in which the duo were travelling was also badly damaged by the mob.
“We arrested five local youths on Saturday and 10 more during the night. The situation at the site is under control and efforts are on to nab the others,” Mukesh Agrawal, additional director general of police (DGP) (law and order), said.
Another person has also been arrested on charge of spreading misinformation on Facebook about the presence of ‘sopa dhora’ (child lifters) in the area.
Rumours about child lifters reportedly led the mob to target the men, who belonged to affluent families in Guwahati.
Friday’s incident is a throwback to June 25, 2013 when 21-year-old Jhankar Saikia was beaten to death by a group of auto rickshaw drivers allegedly over a dispute over fare.
In a video of Friday’s incident widely circulated on social media, a badly injured and bleeding Das is seen telling the attackers that he is an Assamese and pleading with folded hands to spare them.
A widely travelled experimental musician adept at playing several instruments, Das had traversed over 3,000 km on a Royal Enfield bike in May from Goa to reach his home. “What had my son done to deserve a death like this? I have lost all will to live,” said an emotional Ajit Nath, father of Abhijeet.
A dog lover and collector of ornamental fishes, Abhijeet had dropped out of his graduation course after his mother fell sick.
Fuelled by rumours, mobs have reportedly targeted elderly, mentally unstable people or those who don’t speak the local language across Assam in recently.
Two youngsters were attacked on Friday in Jamunamukh in Nagaon by a mob on suspicion of being child lifters. Police managed to reach the spot on time and save the duo.
Another victim who hailed from outside the state was rescued by the police from Misamari in Sonitpur district on Friday night. He had been attacked on a similar suspicion by locals.
In yet another incident, also on Friday, three Hindi-speaking youngsters were severely beaten up by a mob in Udalguri. The police managed to rescue them and shift them to Guwahati for treatment.
On Sunday, state government issued advertisements in newspapers and local news channels where chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal appealed to the public not to fall for rumours and take law into their hands.
“It has come to our notice that since the past few days, some organisations and people have been spreading baseless speculations with the foul intention of disturbing law and order,” the statement read.
“The chief minister has appealed to all sections of public not to fall for such misinformation and take law into their hands,” it said.
Sonowal held a high-level meeting on Sunday and promised stringent action against those found guilty of spreading rumours and urged the public to inform the police if they came across such incidents or noticed anything abnormal.
The lynching in Karbi Anglong sparked outrage against the police and local administration on social media platforms and among neighbours of the victims in Guwahati.
“The attackers allegedly tortured the youths for over an hour and only stopped when they were sure both were dead. The nearest police station is just 30 minutes away from the spot. Why did the police fail to reach on time and save them?” questioned one woman at the Nabagrah crematorium in Guwahati where last rites of the victims were performed on Saturday night.
People are also upset with comments by Karbi Anglong deputy commissioner Mridul Kumar Mahanta who tried to blame the victims for what happened. Talking to media outlets, the officer had said that the victims should have informed the police before going to the area and should not have stayed there till evening.
On Sunday afternoon, thousands from all walks of life including eminent personalities gathered near Commerce College in Guwahati and carried out a protest march demanding stringent and swift action against the killers of Nilotpal and Abhijeet.