GUWAHATi: Altogether 16 people have been arrested so far in connection with Friday evening’s lynching of two young men from Guwahati by a mob at a tribal village in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on the suspicion that they were child-lifters.
The police said of the 16 people arrested, 15 were directly involved in the incident while the 16th person was a Facebook instigator.
“There are some more people to be arrested. We are continuing with our operation to nab them. Simultaneously, we are holding meetings at various levels to ensure that there is no fanning of communal passion. We are asking communities to visit villages and tell people to not get carried away by rumours,” Karbi Anglong Superintendent of Police, GV Siva Prasad, told The New Indian Express.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday held a high-level meeting with senior officials to take stock of the prevailing law and order situation arising out of rumour-mongering. He warned that people found circulating rumours would be dealt with very firmly. The police too issued a warning.
“Some mischievous elements are trying to disturb peace by spreading hate messages. These anti-social activities are being monitored and action will be taken against such wrongdoers. We request citizens not to take part in spreading such messages and inform the Assam Police on call or WhatsApp if they come across such hate messages,” the Assam Police said in a statement.
Director General of Police (DGP) Kuladhar Saikia said ADGP Mukesh Agarwal was monitoring the investigation while another ADGP Harmeet Singh was keeping a vigil on rumours on social media.
Two friends Nilotpal Das (29), a sound engineer, and Abhijit Nath (30), an engineering dropout, were bludgeoned to death by the mob at Panjuri Kacharigaon under Dokmoka police station, around 200 km east of Guwahati. Karbis and Bodos are in a large majority in Panjuri Kacharigaon and its neighbouring villages.
The victims, both nature lovers, were on a day’s vacation to Kangthilangso, a picnic spot, in the area to record the sounds of nature. When they were returning in a car, the mob intercepted their vehicle and pulled them out on the suspicion that they were child-lifters. Soon, the mob turned barbaric, thrashing them mercilessly. While one died on the spot, the other succumbed to his injuries on the way to a hospital. The incident came at a time the villages in the area were in the grip of panic over child-lifting following circulation of rumours through social media.
A youth, who was instrumental in mobilising the mob by shouting about the movement of child-lifters, was among culprits who had gone into hiding. The SP said: “We have identified him. He is on the run but we will catch him soon”.
Nilotpal worked as a sound engineer in Goa and he had come home in mid-April to celebrate Rongali Bihu. Abhijit, who dropped out in final semester of his mechanical engineering studies on health ground, was a businessman. He too took interest in music.
The bodies were consigned to flames on Saturday night in Guwahati amidst fraying of tempers by the victims’ friends and relatives who thwarted the entry of Police Commissioner Hiren Nath and the Chief Minister’s legal advisor Shantanu Bharali into the crematorium.