Mob Lynches Two Youth in Assam Suspecting Them to be Child Abductors

Similar incidents have recently been reported in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh after fake videos and rumours went viral on social media.

NEW DELHI: In striking similarity to incidents of mob lynchings in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, an angry mob lynched two youths from Guwahati to death in a remote area in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam on suspicion of being child kidnappers.

According to the Indian Express, the incident occurred on Friday night after a rumour spread on social media about a group of ‘sopadhara’ (child kidnapper in Assamese) being active in nearby areas.

The two young men were identified as Nilotpal Das (29) and Abhijeet Nath (30) who were returning to Guwahati after visiting the Kathilangso waterfalls in the Dokmoka district area. Das, a sound engineer and his friend Nath, a businessman had gone to the picnic spot Kangthilangso in Karbi Anglong to capture the sounds of nature, police said. Both were in an SUV when they were stopped by a mob, the Indian Express reported. According to Scroll.in, both the youths were artistes based in Goa and were visiting homes for the Bohag Bihu festival.

“The victims were pulled out, tied and beaten to death by the mob while they constantly stated that they were only there in the Karbi Anglong district just to witness the scenic beauty,” the police told IANS.

According to a purported video of the attack  circulating on social media, Das is heard pleading with the attackers. “Do not kill me…please do not beat me,” he says. “I am an Assamese. Believe me, I am speaking the truth. My father’s name is Gopal Chandra Das and mother’s name is Radhika Das…please let me go.” The mob did not heed his pleas and continued to beat him with bamboo sticks, the Scroll report said.

The police have launched a massive search operation to nab the culprits on the basis of the video.

No arrests have been made so far, they said. The district administration authorities are camping in the area and holding talks with the villagers.

According to the Shillong Times, Dokmoka police station officer-in charge JS Khowbun said, “A village defence party told us there were more than 200 people….They told us almost 40 minutes after the incident. The site being a remote area, there was a problem with the telephone network as well and hence the delay. But by the time we reached the mob had fled the scene and the two were badly injured. They succumbed to their injuries on way to Dokmoka public health centre.”

Meanwhile, Das and Nath’s parents are on their way to Karbi Anglong from Guwahati where they reside. The bodies will be handed over to them after conducting the post-mortem, police added.

As in the case of Tamil Nadu where a woman tourist was lynched to death on suspicion of being a child abductor after fake WhatsApp videos went viral, in this case, too, the police told ANI that “In last few days, posts on child lifters have been shared on social media. We’ve asked SPs of various districts to take actions so that such videos don’t go viral. Issue is being looked into by our special force. Whatever input that’s come to us is being verified by field level intelligence. I’ll be able to comment only when things are verified.”

According to IANS, Assam chief minister Sarbanada Sonowal, who has ordered a high-level probe into the lynching incident, said “It is condemnable that people are being killed after being influenced by rumours and superstition.”