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23 arrested for lynching two men on suspicion of being child lifters in Assam

The Assam police also arrested 22 others for spreading hate messages and fake photographs of the so-called ‘Hopa Dora’ (child lifters).

india Updated: Jun 11, 2018 22:57 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam lynching,Assam,Child lifters
People protest against the lynching of two men in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on suspicion of being 'child lifters', in Guwahati.(PTI File Photo)

The Assam police have arrested 23 people so far for their involvement in the brutal lynching of two young men in Karbi Anglong district three days ago.

Given the deadly consequences of the wild rumours going viral on social media, the police also cracked down and arrested 22 people from different parts of the state for spreading hate messages and fake photographs of the so-called ‘Hopa Dora’ (child lifters), police said.

However, according to a police officer involved with the probe, a number of suspects involved in the lynching of the two men are still on the run. “They are on the run. We are on the run too after them,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Those still evading arrest, police said, possibly include the culprits who instigated the villagers. According to the sequence of events shared by JS Khowbung, the officer in-charge of the Dokmuka police station, the 29-year-old Nilotpal Das and 30-year-old Abhijeet Nath were spotted by locals on their way back from the picturesque Kangthilangso waterfall. At this point some phone calls were made to people of Panjuri Kachari village about the presence of Hopa Dhora (child abductors) in the area, the officer said.

“Around 8pm, when they were on their way back, their SUV was stopped at the Panjuri Kachari intersection where one road goes to the village and one to the picnic spot,” Khowbung said. “It is at this spot that the attack fuelled by the fake news and recorded on a mobile phone camera unfolded. The person who is alleged to have made that phone call, and some others involved in the attack on Friday, are still on the run.”

Mukesh Agarwal, the additional director general of police, however, says the assertion that phone calls were made prior to the attack is still being investigated.

According to police, the arrested include six from Nagaon and Sonitpur for spreading rumours, fake photos and hate messages, two each from Biswanath, Dibrugarh, Kamrup (Metro) and Darrang, and one from Barpeta and Karbi Anglong. According to senior police officials, the cyber cell is being beefed up for real time engagement and monitoring.

Meanwhile, the state saw protests for the second day on Monday as people continue to be in a state of shock and disbelief over the killings of Nilotpal, the Goa-based sound engineer and his friend Abhijeet, a businessman.

Hundreds gathered in a silent protest at the Judges Field in Guwahati. “Foolishness, illiteracy and superstition led to this incident,” said artist Zubeen Garg, who was leading the protest. Garg also attacked the local administration for questioning why the two men were travelling in a remote area without informing local authorities. “Is Karbi Anglong in Bhutan that we have to seek permission,” Garg asked.

First Published: Jun 11, 2018 21:25 IST