state news

Karnataka lynching: Police arrest around 30, including WhatsApp group owner

A mob had killed a man and injured three of his friends on Friday on the suspicion that they were child-lifters.

The police have arrested around 30 people in connection with the lynching of a man in Karnataka’s Bidar district on the suspicion that he was a child-lifter, PTI reported on Sunday. A mob killed the man and injured three of his friends on Friday in Aurad taluka’s Murki village.

Those arrested included the administrator of a WhatsApp group that spread rumours about a child-lifting gang, and a person who shot pictures of the attack and circulated it, unidentified police officials said.

The police arrested the attackers based on a video clip of the incident, Superintendent of Police D Devraj told the Hindustan Times.

Mohammed Azam, Talha Ismail and Mohammed Salman – all from Hyderabad – were travelling with their friend Mohammed Bashir to his home in Handikera village. When they stopped for a break in Balkut Tanda, Ismail, who had recently returned from Qatar, reportedly offered chocolates to schoolchildren. The residents allegedly thought that they were child abductors and began assaulting them.

The four men managed to escape in their car but residents of the area called their friends in nearby Murki village and asked them to stop the car. The villagers blocked the road with a fallen tree, dragged Azam out of the car and hit him with stones and sticks. He died on the spot.

Soon after, the police arrived at the spot to contain the mob. They rescued Ismail and Salman and admitted them to a hospital in Bidar. The duo were shifted to a facility in Hyderabad on Saturday. At least 10 police officials were also injured, police inspector Dileep Sagar told Reuters.

Lynching incidents on similar suspicions, often based on social media rumours, have been reported from several states over the last few weeks. The police across the country have started outreach units to quell fake news.

Messaging application WhatsApp said on Tuesday it has updated its service to label forwarded messages. The company took action after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asked it on July 4 to initiate measures to prevent the spread of “explosive messages” and said it would be held accountable and responsible for fake news being spread through its platform.

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