DHULE: The mob which lynched five people in Dhule district on Sunday had threatened to set ablaze the policemen if they were not allowed to see for themselves that the victims had indeed died, an official claimed, as chilling details emerged about the horrific incident.
Five people, belonging to the Nath Gosavi community, were on July 1 brutally thrashed by a mob in remote Rainpada village, about 100km from the district headquarters, leading to their death.
The attack was believed to have been triggered by a rumour about a child-lifting gang being active in the area.
Police Sub-Inspector (PSI) Yogesh Khatkal, Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Ravindra Randhir and four constables rushed to Rainpada in Sakri tehsil on receiving information at around 10 am about the mob attack.
"We reached Rainpada around noon in our official vehicle, where we saw a mob of more than 3,000 people. The five members of a nomadic tribe, who were attacked by the mob on the suspicion of child lifting, were confined to a room of the local panchayat office," Khatkal said.
The police tried to clear the mob and take custody of the victims to take them to the hospital.
However, people were not allowing policemen to move from there, he said.
"We put all the bodies in our official vehicle. However, the angry mob came after us and threatened us with dire consequences if they were not allowed to see for themselves if the victims had died," Khatkal said.
"They threatened to set ablaze us and our vehicle if we did not accept their demand. They also insisted on conducting cremation at the spot if they have died," he said.
Khatkal, who was injured after being assaulted by the mob, somehow convinced them to disperse and then took the bodies to a state-run hospital in Dhule with the help of his colleagues.
ASI Randhir (53), who was with Khatkal during the incident, is the complainant in this case and has given a statement to the Pimpalner Police.
The statement narrates the sequence of events after the police team reached the village.
"When we reached the panchayat office in Rainpada, the mob attacked the police team, causing injuries to PSI Khatkal, constables Vishram Pawar and Bhushan Wagh," Randhir said in his statement.
The police lathi-charged the mob, following which they dispersed, but regrouped soon, he said.
"We sought additional manpower from the Pimpalner Police Station (located 40km from Rainpada) and also called the police control room."
He said the five people, who were attacked by the mob with steel rods, sticks, stones and bricks, were lying motionless in a room of the local panchayat office.
In his statement, the ASI has identified over two dozen attackers.
Randhir has corroborated Khatkal's assertion that the mob had threatened to set policemen and their vehicle afire if they were not allowed to check if the victims had died.
The statement was recorded by Assistant Police Inspector P J Rathod, who is in-charge of the Pimpalner Police Station.