Less than a fortnight after rumours spread via WhatsApp triggered communal violence in Meghalaya capital Shillong, social media posts about child abductors led to the lynching of two young men on vacation in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on Friday evening.
Nilotpal Das, an audio engineer into experimental music and Abjijeet Nath, a digital artist had gone to the hills on Friday. The two, in their late 20s, from affluent families in Guwahati, were working in Mumbai and Goa.
Residents of Panjuri Kacharigaon, a Karbi tribal village about 200 km east of Guwahati, suspected the duo to be khupadhora or child abductors when they stopped to ask for directions. They dragged them out, tied and bludgeoned them to death.
In a video clip of the incident that has triggered outrage on social media, a profusely bleeding Das is seen pleading with the mob that they were Assamese, not child abductors but to no avail.
Karbi Anglong superintendent of police G.V. Siva Prasad said four people have been arrested. “A police team reached the spot after receiving information of the assault by 200-250 people. One of the victims had died on the spot, while the other died on way to the hospital,” he said, attributing the duo’s killing to “a combination of bad circumstances.”
The district’s deputy commissioner, Mridul Kumar Mahanta, said the victims should have informed the police before visiting the remote area. Gopal Chandra Das and Ajit Nath, fathers of the two victims, have demanded stern action to discourage lynch mobs.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, while ordering a probe into the incident, sought curbs on misuse of social media.