Dhule Lynching Not Pre-Planned, Villagers Killed Men Without Knowing Reason
Dhule: The lynching of five nomads in a remote village of this district of Maharashtra last Sunday was spontaneous, according to a top police official.
Dhule's Superintendent of Police M Ramkumar said many of those arrested have claimed that they joined in thrashing the five men without actually knowing about the provocation.
The police has arrested 24 people so far in connection with the July 1 lynching in remote Rainpada village, about 100 kms from the Dhule district headquarters, which was believed to have been triggered by a rumour about a child-lifting gang being active in the area.
In the videos which went viral, the victims, belonging to Nath Gosavi community, were seen being thrashed with sticks and chappals and stoned after one of them apparently tried to speak to a six-year-old girl.
"It was a spontaneous reaction of the villagers," Ramkumar told PTI in an interview here while referring to the incident that shook the nation.
"When we asked the accused in our custody why they beat up the tribals, they told us that they did not even know the antecedents of the victims, neither did they hear about any rumours. They just started hitting the victims after seeing their co-villagers thrashing them," Ramkumar added.
He said some had slapped the victims, others hit them with chappals, some broke the doors and windows of panchayat office and others hit them inside, which led to their death.
Assistant police inspector Yogesh Khatkal of Pimpalner police station said there was a crowd of about 3000 people when they reached the incident site after receiving a distress call at around 11 am.
According to the police and locals, the victims were first attacked by a group of "highly inebriated" people in Kakar pada village and were brought to the adjoining Rainpada village while being continuously thrashed along the 1-km stretch.
In Rainpada, the victims, still alive, were taken to the panchayat office where the villagers asked about their antecedents and what they were doing with the children, according to the local villagers.
While they were being questioned, some youth in a "highly inebriated" state egged the gathered crowd not to believe what the five men, said a local villager.
Subsequently, a mob broke the door and windows of the panchayat office and started thrashing the men, which resulted in their death, the villager added.
Ramkumar said 22 more accused have been identified on the basis of around 40 vidoes and police teams have been dispatched to neighbouring states, including Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, to nab 22 them.
The SP said it was almost impossible to track the source of Whatsapp rumours and the number of persons that these
messages had been forwarded to.
"Though our cyber team is working on it, it is almost impossible as Whatsapp messages are encrypted," he added.