Bengaluru, July 15: In another incident of lynching, a man was beaten to death, while three others were injured after a mob attacked them suspecting them to be child-lifters, near Bidar, police said today.
The incident occurred on Friday and the deceased has been identified as Mohammad Azam Usmansab (28) from Hyderabad, they said.
According to officials, about 30 persons have been arrested in this connection, including an administrator (admin) of a WhatsApp group that spread rumours about child-lifting gangs and galvanised the mob, besides the person who shot the pictures of the attack and circulated it.
Usmansab, along with his three friends, had come to visit their friend Mohammed Bashir Afroz at Handikera village in Bidar.
While on their way back to Hyderabad they stopped near a hamlet, probably with an intention to take pictures. On noticing some children, they offered some chocolates to them, police said.
Locals mistook them for child-lifters and started attacking them. By then their pictures got circulated on a WhatsApp group, resulting in more people gathering, they said.
Also, the car that the group was travelling in was without a number plate, fuelling their suspicion.
Though they managed to escape from the spot, they were caught near Murki village, as the mob had alerted their acquaintances there. The group was beaten with stones and sticks, police said.
Though police reached the spot on receiving information, they were outnumbered, and a couple of police constables were reportedly injured in the melee.
Police managed to bring the situation under control and shifted them to a hospital, but Usmansab died on the way, they said.
The others have been shifted to a hospital in Hyderabad, police said.
Police personnel are maintaining strict vigil in the area.
There has been a string of attacks and lynching incidents in the country fuelled by rumours on child-lifting gangs, prompting the government to ask social media operators such as WhatsApp to clamp down on spread of such messages.
On July 12 at Madurai in Tamil Nadu, a young woman was thrashed by locals on suspicion of being a child-lifter before police rescued her.
Five people were recently killed in North Maharashtra’s Dhule district over child-lifting rumours on social media.