Dhule, Maharashtra: The shocked families of five persons who were lynched in Maharashtra's Dhule on Sunday after being suspected to be kidnappers refused to accept their bodies on Monday, seeking justice and compensation first.
Simultaneously, the Congress targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government and police, blaming them for failure to prevent the incident.
On Sunday afternoon, a group of around half a dozen mendicants (bhikshuk) belonging to a nomadic community known as 'Nath Gosavi' had deboarded a state transport bus in Rainpada tribal village.
Mistaking them to be child-lifters, a large number of villagers attacked them with sticks, stones and left them to die near the gram panchayat office.
Their bodies were later shifted to Pimpalner hospital for autopsy and police swung into action to detain or arrested around two dozen suspects, officials said.
Condemning the incident, State Congress President Ashok Chavan today asked "whether there is rule of law or jungle raj in Maharashtra".
He said that in recent weeks there have been several such incidents across Maharashtra including Aurangabad. In Jalna, the local BJP legislator was involved in a similar attack on some persons.
"Rumour-mongering aided by social media is creating panic among the people. They attack any unknown persons who are seriously injured or killed in the mob violence. The government must take strong action," Chavan urged.
The distraught families of the victims on Monday staged a sit-in protest demanding police action against the culprits involved in the lynching and suitable compensation.
In the Dhule incident, the victims had reportedly come for the weekly village market and were moving around. One of them was seen speaking with a young girl and they were mistaken as kidnappers, prompting the crowd to brutally attack them.
The five who succumbed to their injured were identified as Bharat Shankar Bhosale, Dadarao Shankar Bhosale, Bharat Shankar Malwe, Agnu Ingole and Raju Bhosale.
Members of the Nath Gosavi community staged a noisy protest outside the Satara district collectorate office demanding justice for the victims and punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar who visited the Rainpada village has assured strict action against the culprits and urged people not to fall for rumour-mongering posts circulated on social media.
Meanwhile, various district police headquarters have also urged people not to believe in rumour mongering.