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Assam Lynching: 23 Arrested, Probe Ordered Into ‘Police Lapses’

A senior police officer has been given charge to keep a vigil on rumours circulating on social media. 

Updated
India
3 min read
 Nilotpal Das (right), a sound engineer based in Mumbai, and his friend Abhijeet Nath, a businessman were lynched by a mob in Karbi Anglong district of Assam.
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Four more persons were arrested on Monday, 11 June, in connection with the lynching of two youths in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, taking the total number of arrests in the case to 23.

In addition, 22 others have been arrested for allegedly spreading rumours and hate messages on the social media as part of a statewide crackdown, the police told PTI.

Magisterial Probe Ordered

Earlier in the day, a magisterial enquiry had been ordered to find out if there were any lapses on the part of the police as regards the lynching of two men in Karbi Anglong district of Assam, following reports that a "policeman" was seen recording video clips of the incident.

The victims – Abhijeet Nath and Nilotpal Das – both in their thirties returning from a picnic spot were pulled out of their car and lynched on Friday (8 June) night by a mob at Panjuri, near the Kangthilangso waterfalls in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, on the suspicion that they were child-lifters, following rumours on social media.

Karbi Angong Deputy Commissioner has entrusted Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Junumoni Sonowal with carrying out the enquiry, the order said.

"Unconfirmed reports have been received that a person in khaki, suspected to be a police official, was seen taking video clips of the incident," the order said.

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The ADC has also been asked to ascertain the identity of the person who allegedly recorded video clips of the incident and submit a report within a week.

The order said it would have to be found out why the police took so much time to reach the spot and in spite of rumours of child-lifting, why they did not take extra precaution for people’s safety as well as in anticipation of any untoward incident.

Meanwhile, there was a meeting between the Guwahati police commissioner and officials of the Kamrup Metropolitan district administration on Sunday.

At the meeting, the police were asked to remain alert and ensure steps to prevent any untoward incident in the district, an official release said.

Following the incident, the Hailakandi district administration has also asked the people to remain alert against forces seeking to create disturbance in the society.

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Police to Keep Strict Vigil on Social Media

On 10 June, the Assam police had issued a crackdown on social media, with a senior officer being given special charge to keep a vigil on rumours circulating on the platforms.

Among those arrested following the crackdown included the man who allegedly fanned the rumour on social media that child lifters have entered Assam, Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia told reporters.

While Additional Director General of Police Mukesh Agarwal is monitoring the investigation, ADGP Harmeet Singh had been given the charge of keeping a strict vigil on social media, Saikia said.

He appealed to the people not to get swayed by rumours on social media and immediately inform the police if they came across any such post.

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The police has released some telephone numbers through which the people can contact them. They can also inform the nearest police station, the Superintendent of Police or the police headquarters in Guwahati, the DGP said.

The cyberspace is very wide requiring more people to monitor it and Chief Secretary T Y Das has given the nod to bring in more people to monitor social media, the DGP said.

The chief secretary was also present at the press conference.

Asked whether forces from outside the state were spreading rumours in the run up to the publication of the second draft of the National Register of Citizens slated on 30 June, the DGP said it was not possible to say anything at this stage, but the investigation covered all angles.

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He said security in vulnerable areas of the state has been intensified and special patrolling was being conducted, particularly in the weekly Sunday markets, to prevent any untoward incident.

In a video of the incident circulated on social media, the two men can be heard begging for their lives and trying to explain to the livid crowd that they were innocent but to no avail. After the police reached the spot, the two seriously injured men were rushed to a hospital but they died on the way.

Their bodies were brought to Guwahati and cremated late on 9 June.

Videos of their lynching, uploaded on social media, have triggered protests in Guwahati besides generating anger on the streets.

(With inputs from PTI)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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