Despite law enforcement agencies urging people at large to not believe in rumours about child lifters on social media, incidents of lynching suspects continue to be reported across the country. The most recent incident occurred on Friday night when a man was killed and two of his friends injured by a mob in Karnataka's Bidar district - all because they were suspected of being child lifters.
According to media reports, Mohammad Azam from Hyderabad was travelling to Bidar with two of his friends and had stopped at a local shop in Handikera village. Here, they decided to give chocolates to some children in the vicinity and it was this 'crime' that led to the tragedy.
Local police officials have said that people around the shop warned the three men to not give chocolates to the children and steer clear. The men left the place but a photo of them while giving the chocolates was soon circulated on WhatsApp and termed them as child lifters.
Azam and his friend were later spotted near Murki village when the car they were travelling in met with an accident. The people who had gathered recognised them and began assaulting them.
Police reached the spot and managed to rescue the three men but Mohammad succumbed to his injuries. It is being reported that the man primarily responsible for circulating the photo on WhatsApp has been arrested and 30 other arrests have also been made on charges of assaulting the three men.
Such incidents are becoming increasingly frequent in the country with people opting to believe rumours on social media and taking matters into their own hands - based only on suspicion. States like Maharashtra have begun conducting awareness programs at the grass-root level and cyber cell teams of law enforcement agencies have been instructed to monitor such incidents closely.