A 40-year-old man, who was taking his nephew to a doctor, was lynched after residents mistook him for a kidnapper in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal district, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. The deceased’s brother, who was accompanying the two, was also grievously injured in the attack, which occurred on Tuesday at Asalatpur Jarai village.

The police said that Raju and Ramavatar, both residents of Chabra village in Sambhal were attacked as the child was crying of severe stomach pain. “Raju and Ram first took the boy to a Community Health Centre at Reeth village, but the doctors there suggested them to take him to Chandausi as he was not getting respite from an acute stomach ache,” the newspaper quoted Chandausi Police Station in charge Dharam Pal Singh as saying. The residents got agitated after seeing the crying child as there have been posts on social media about child-lifters. They then assaulted the brothers with iron rods, sticks and stones.

While Raju died on the spot, 42-year-old Ramavatar was taken to a hospital in Chandausi, after which he was shifted to a Moradabad hospital. Ramavatar alleged that the mob also robbed them of Rs 15,000 and a mobile phone.

“Based on video evidence collected from the spot, four persons have been arrested under charges of murder and rioting and an FIR [first information report] has been registered against 14 more for rioting,” The Hindu quoted Sambhal Superintendent of Police Yamuna Prasad as saying. “We will arrest them soon. Ramavatar is stable.” He also asked locals not to believe in rumours propagated on social media. But The Indian Express quoted Prasad as saying that six people were arrested.

A complaint has been registered under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 148 (rioting), among others.

At least 20 mob attack cases have been reported within the last two weeks from western Uttar Pradesh over rumours of child-lifting, according to The Hindu. Inspector General of Meerut Zone Alok Singh has issued an advisory against spreading rumours over child abduction in various districts and cautioned that stringent legal action would be taken against perpetrators.

“Gram pradhans and chowkidars are being directed to take necessary action to stop the spread of rumours,” Alok Kumar, Superintendent of Police (City), Ghaziabad was quoted as saying. “It has been observed that people with vested interests are making fake videos of child-lifting and are making them go viral. We are keeping a close watch on social media.”

Over 80 arrested for child theft rumours

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh on Wednesday said that 82 people have been arrested for spreading rumours of child theft in the state and they will be booked under the National Security Act, PTI reported.

“In the probe into the incidents of violence, there is no angle of child theft,” Singh said. “My appeal to you is that do not believe in rumours or take law in your hands and be a partner in the violence.”

“If you come to know about any such incident, then immediately inform on 100,” he added. “So far 82 people have been arrested in the state for spreading rumours about child theft and subsequently spreading violence. They will be booked under the National Security Act.”

The police said stringent action will be taken against rumour-mongers.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.