Mob kills one, injures three in Assam over suspicion of cow theft
One person was killed and three others seriously injured in an attack by a mob over suspicions that they were cow thieves in Biswanath district of upper Assam, police said on Thursday.
According to the police, the incident took place at Diplunga tea estate, nearly 230km from the state capital, early on Wednesday.
“Four persons from Sootea were travelling in a tempo van when they were attacked by a mob at 4:00am. Locals allege the victims had stolen cows,” said a police official from Sootea police station on the condition of anonymity.
The police said two stolen cows were recovered from the van. While the driver of the vehicle escaped from the scene, a mob of nearly 20 people attacked the four men with sticks and clubs.
A video of the incident captured on a mobile phone, which is doing the rounds on social media, shows the victims sitting on the ground and pleading to be spared with folded hands while others rained blows on them.
“We were on our way to buy pigs from Diplunga tea estate early on Wednesday morning when a mob armed with sticks, iron rods etc. stopped us and started attacking, accusing us of being cow thieves,” one of the injured victims told local television channels.
The police, however, maintain that the victims had stolen cows and were transporting them.
“A case of cow theft has been registered. We have no information about the victims going to buy pigs. Since they are injured we are yet to record their statements,” said the official.
The injured victims were taken to a private nursing home in Biswanath Chariali town where one of them, Deben Rajbongshi, died. The other three, Phoolchand Sahu, Bijoy Nayak and Pujen Rajbongshi, who sustained injuries on their heads, legs and arms, are undergoing treatment.
All the victims belong to the ‘adivasi’ community who are mainly employed in the tea gardens of the area.
“We have launched an operation against those responsible for the attack on the victims. No one has been arrested yet,” Biswanath superintendent of police Diganta Kumar Chowdhury said.
Wednesday’s incident comes two months after two men from Guwahati were lynched by a mob in Karbi Anglong district on suspicion of being child lifters.
Following the incident, both the police and state administration had launched a campaign against fake news and urged people not to take law into their own hands. But incidents of moral policing and mob justice haven’t stopped.
In April last year, two people were killed by an angry mob following an allegation of cow theft in Nagaon district of central Assam. It was the first reported case of deaths in a mob attack on ‘cow thieves’.