Lynchings Due to WhatsApp Rumours Claim 19 Lives in Two Months
Click here for the complete list of mob lynchings since 2015
Since May 2018, WhatsApp-borne rumours have allegedly led to at least 19 deaths in India.
Fake messages, claiming that child traffickers and robbers have entered cities and towns, have had a menacing effect, purportedly responsible for at least 13 incidents of fatal mob-violence across eight Indian states.
The messaging app, with close to 200 million users in the country, has supposedly become an instrument to spread not just fake news, but also rumours leading to violence.
The incidents of violence, abetted by WhatsApp forwards, have emerged from the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and most recently from Maharashtra, where five people were lynched by a mob which suspected that they were part of a gang of child-lifters.
Here are some of the recent cases in which people were killed and WhatsApp rumours purportedly had a role to play:
Five Lynched in Maharashtra’s Dhule Over Child-Lifting Rumours
Names: Bharat Shankar Bhosale, Dadarao Shankar Bhosale, Raju Bhosale, Bharat Malwe and Anagu Ingole
Place: Dhule, Maharashtra
Date: 1 July 2018
Five people were lynched in Maharashtra’s Dhule district on Sunday, 1 July, by villagers who suspected that they were part of a gang of child-lifters. The incident took place at Rainpada, 25 kilometres from Pimpalner in the Dhule district, at around 11:30 am.
According to Dhule Superintendent of Police M Ramkumar, the accused in this case “hail from a tribal village where WhatsApp posts pertaining to child kidnappers had gone viral.”
Three Lynchings in 24 Hours in Tripura
Names: Zahir Khan, Sukanta Chakrabarty and an unidentified woman
Place: West Tripura district, South Tripura district and Sipahijhala district
Date: 28 June 2018
On 28 June, the state of Tripura saw three different incidents of lynching allegedly owing to child-lifting rumours.
Firstly, a hawker, identified as Zahir Khan from UP’s Muzaffarnagar, died at Murabari in West Tripura district, after a mob attacked him on suspicion of being a child-lifter. Four others were injured in the incident.
Second, an unidentified woman was lynched and another injured when she, along with four men, was moving in a vehicle at Bishalgarh in Sipahijala district.
Lastly, a man hired by the Tripura Information and Culture department to spread awareness against rumour-mongering became the victim of mob violence himself in South Tripura district on 28th night. Sukanta Chakrabarty (33) was lynched by a mob purportedly suspecting him of being a child-lifter.
Forty-Year-Old Woman Beaten to Death in Ahmedabad
Name: Shantiben Marwadi
Place: Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Date: 26 June 2018
Forty-year-old beggar Shantiben Marwadi, who had come to Gujarat from Rajasthan, was beaten up along with three others by a mob in Ahmedabad on 26 June in the backdrop of child-lifting rumours on social media platforms, including WhatsApp, reported The Hindu.
While the three other women were grievously injured, Shantiben eventually succumbed to her injuries.
Two Youths Killed Over Whatsapp Rumours in Assam
Name: Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath
Place: West Karbi Anglong district, Assam
Date: 8 June 2018
Two youths, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, were bludgeoned to death by an angry mob who suspected the two to be child abductors in Assam in June.
Even though the two boys pleaded they were on a safari and had nothing to do with child traffickers, an angry group of people beat them to death.
Messages suggesting that child abductors were on the loose were circulated through WhatsApp groups.
Two Killed in Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Names: Bharat Sonavne and Shivaji Shinde
Place: Aurangabad, Maharashtra
Date: 8 June 2018
On 8 June 2018, two men were allegedly beaten to death and seven others were injured – one of them critically – after a mob of villagers attacked them allegedly on the suspicion of being robbers in Chandgaon village in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district.
Police said a mob of at least 1,500 villagers allegedly attacked nine men with wooden sticks after nabbing them from near a farm in the village on the morning of 8 June.
Trans Woman Killed in Hyderabad
Place: Hyderabad, Telangana
Date: 26 May 2018
A trans woman was killed by a mob in Hyderabad's Chandrayangutta and the purported reason was once again the same: a WhatsApp rumour.
The mob attacked four trans women, who were in Hyderabad seeking alms during Ramzan, suspecting they were part of a dacoit gang out to kidnap children.
The video of the incident showed a mob descending on all four of them, despite the police trying to ward off the attackers. One of the trans women succumbed to injuries.
Bengaluru Man Accused of Abducting Children Lynched
Place: Bengaluru, Karnataka
Date: 23 May 2018
An appalling video of a man, whose body was covered in blood and hands tied, surfaced in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in May this year.
The man, still alive, was being dragged on the road by two minor boys before several women gathered with sticks and iron rods to beat him further.
The stranger was spotted giving chocolates and sweets to children, raising alarm-bells among locals in Bengaluru's Chamrajpet locality.
Hindi-Speaking Youth Lynched in Vishakapatnam
Place: Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Date: 22 May 2018
A 25-year-old Hindi-speaking man was reportedly stripped, tied to a pole and lynched in the Old Town area of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. According to The Hindu, the man was trying to communicate with the people in Hindi, but people paid no attention to him and beat him to death.
Two Lynching Incidents in a Day in Telangana
Names: Nimmala Balakrishna and Devya Naik
Place: Yadadri Bhuvanagiri and Nizamabad, Telangana
Date: 22 May 2018
In two separate incidents in Telangana in May 2018, two people were lynched allegedly because of child-lifting rumours. In the Yadadri Bhuvagiri district, a man named Nimmala Balakrishna, who was visiting a village to meet his relatives, was thrashed by a group of youngsters.
Meanwhile, in the Nizamabad district, two tribals, who had reportedly gone to an orchard for plucking mangoes, were brutally assaulted by the locals. One of them, Devya Naik, ultimately died in the hospital.
A 65-Years-Old Woman Killed in Tamil Nadu
Place: Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
Date: 10 May 2018
Villagers in Thiruvannamalai’s Athinoor attacked the car in which 65-year-old Rukmini was travelling, along with four other family members. On the fateful day, she was seen offering sweets to village children, when they made a pit-stop to ask for the route, which triggered the incident.
While Rukmini died on the spot, all four relatives were seriously injured.