Police Stood By as Mob Raged in Jharkhand: Videos, Eye-Witness

Two seperate lynching incidents were fuelled by rumour-mongering on WhatsApp about child-lifting in the area.

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Disturbing videos of two lynching incidents that took place in Jharkhand on 18 May show that policemen were present at the spot when the violence took place, as indicated in a report by The Indian Express.

These separate incidents, which took place in Bagbera and Shobhapur, claimed the lives of seven people. Another incident of lynching occurred Jadugora, Jharkhand on 12 May that left two people dead.

According to The Indian Express report, two videos from Bagbera and Shobhapur show the injured victims surrounded by a mob, with the policemen standing-by as witness.

Uttam Verma, the brother of two victims, Vikas and Gautam, who were killed in the Bagbera incident, also said that the police ‘encouraged the attack’, reported NDTV.

The police had arrived. But they didn’t help. They told the crowd, ‘they are baccha chors (child kidnappers), beat them’. They encouraged the attack.
Uttam Verma, brother of two victims, to NDTV

Media reports further indicate that these incidents were fuelled by rumour-mongering on WhatsApp, talking about apparent child-lifting prevalent in the area. This message told people to be vigilant and ensure the safety of their children, as child-lifting gangs were on the move.

We request all of you that you take care of your children, because child-lifting gangs are roaming around in the village. Accompany your children when taking them to school, market, or dropping them home. Take care of children who are playing outside. We need to be careful considering the security. Don’t consider this as a rumour. (Translated from Hindi)
WhatsApp rumour message

In this context, Anta Tudu, village head of Shobhapur, was quoted by The Indian Express as saying:

Rumours were already spreading so when such official-sounding WhatsApp messages came up, tribals had no doubt that child-lifter gangs were indeed on the prowl. There were also pictures of children in a room and other images. We were scared, and some of us panicked.
Anta Tudu, village head, Shobhapur

Human Rights Commission Censures Law Enforcing Agencies

A notice was issued by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the state Director General of Police asking for a report on the lynchings. The commission censured the authorities, remarking, "the law enforcing agencies of the state have certainly failed to perform their lawful duty".

Several arrests have been made in connection with the lynchings and the police investigation is underway.

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