A man was lynched in Asansol subdivision early on Wednesday morning after local residents suspected him to be a child-lifter. In a separate incident, a mentally-challenged man was beaten up by residents at Dinhata in Cooch Behar district, also on the suspicion that he is a child-lifter.
According to police, rumours of child-lifters on the prowl had been doing the rounds in Salanpur village in Asansol subdivision of West Burdwan district. Around 6 am on Tuesday, local residents saw a man loitering in the area, suspected him of being a child-lifter and assaulted him, said police. When a police team rushed to the spot, the local residents started heckling them.
“The youth was rushed to a hospital where he was declared brought dead. We have got video footage of the incident and are trying to identify the culprits,” said D P Singh, Police Commissioner of Asansol-Durgapur.
Police said the youth is yet to be identified.
In the Cooch Behar incident, residents of Boro Atiabari village beat up a 32-year-old mentally-challenged man who was seen roaming near a shop around 8 pm on Tuesday, said police. The mob suspected him to be a child-lifter, tied up his hands and legs, and beat him up. However, a police team managed to rescue him and admit him to the Dinhata subdivisional hospital.
“We are investigating the matter. We are also continuing our efforts to spread awareness against rumours in the locality,” said an officer of Dinhata police station.
The fresh incidents of mob violence come on the heels of the West Bengal Assembly passing the Prevention of Lynching Bill on August 30. The new legislation has a provision of death penalty for those convicted.
West Bengal has seen a string of similar incidents triggered by rumours in the past one week.
On September 3, one Dharma Singh (25) was beaten up by residents of Baniapara village in Jalpaiguri district on the suspicion that he is a child-lifter. The mob also vandalised a police vehicle when policemen went to rescue him.
A day later, Khabir Sheikh, a 32-year-old mason, died after being assaulted by a mob inside a clinic at Lalbagh in Murshidabad district.
On September 7, at Kharkharia village, Dinhata, a mentally challenged person was beaten up by local residents. He was later identified as Joseph Santhal.
The next day, another man was beaten up in Hirapur area of West Burdwan district. The police managed to rescue him, but the mob attacked the three civic police volunteers who went to rescue him.