PATNA: The lynching of nine people in a span of eight days by rampaging mobs in southern Jharkhand over child-lifting rumours led to violent protests in Jamshedpur for the third consecutive day on Sunday, prompting the administration to impose a curfew in four police station areas.
Two of the 17 people named in the FIR were arrested on Sunday afternoon and a hunt is on for the rest, said Rakesh Bansal, superintendent of police (SP) of nearby Seraikela-Kharsawan district, where two of the three incidents took place on Thursday.
Even though an FIR was lodged against 17 identified and 1,200 unidentified people, failure to arrest any of the culprits had kept public anger brewing. In Jamshedpur’s Mango area, police fired in the air and hurled tear gas shells to disperse protesters.
“The situation has been brought under control. Security forces have been deployed in the area to maintain peace,” said Amit Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of East Singhbhum district, of which Jamshedpur is the headquarters..
Seven people were brutally beaten to death in a span of 24 hours by mobs comprising of over 500 people, mostly tribals, in two incidents in nearby Seraikela-Kharsawan district on Thursday night.
In the first incident, four Muslim cattle traders were kicked and hit with sticks and boulders at Rajnagar while three Hindu men – two of them brothers and a friend – were lynched in a similar fashion at Bagbera.
A week before this, two other people, one of them identified as a tribal man named Raphael Tudu and the other still unidentified, were lynched by mobs in Jadugora on May 11.
Suspicion by local villagers about child-abduction gangs being active in their area was the reason for the deaths.
Road blockades were put up in Mango and Dhatkidih by Muslim residents demanding immediate arrests of those who led the lynch mobs. With Jamshedpur being chief minister Raghubar Das’s Assembly constituency, police are taking extra care not to allow protests to spark communal tensions, said officials.
The authorities had earlier denied any communal motive in the three incidents.
Messages about child-lifting gangs being on the prowl had been circulating on WhatsApp in the three southern districts – Seraikela-Kharsawan, East Singbhum and West Singbhum – for nearly a month. The respective district administrations have started watching messages circulating on WhatsApp groups and kicked off an awareness campaign in the affected areas.
The families of the two brothers- Vikas Verma and Gaurav Verma – refused to accept the ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh each announced by CM Raghubar Das. The family demanded that the CM meet them and ensure the arrest of all the accused.