Chennai: Tamil Nadu government and the police are waking up jolted, albeit in small pockets here and there, to the gruesome lynching of an elder woman of Chennai’s Jameen Pallavaram by a murderous mob assuming her to be part of a child-lifting gang at Athimoor village in Tiruvannamalai district on Wednesday.
Police in the northern districts have launched a ‘mass-contact’ programme on multiple platforms-such as print/TV media, tom-tom and posters-and sent cops by auto-rickshaws fitted with loudspeakers to tell the public not to believe the false fears being spread on Facebook, Whatsapp and twitter that child-lifters from north India were on the prowl.
Tiruvannamalai district collector S. Kandasamy said 23 persons have been arrested so far in connection with the lynching of Rukmani and more arrests were likely. Criminal cases under various sections including murder, using deadly weapons and unlawful assembly, have been filed. Stiff punishment, including detention under the Goondas Act, would be meted out to persons caught spreading false alarms on the social media, the collector warned, adding that the cyber wing police would be on alert to catch the culprits, who would be treated as anti-socials.
Similar warnings have been sounded by the authorities in all the northern districts, since the rumour-mongering on child-lifters from north India has been most intense in this region. “There are false rumours being spread that child-lifters from north India are on the prowl here. These are utterly false rumours. If you have any suspicion that a stranger is a child-lifter, alert the police or hand him over to us. We will take action as per law, after proper probe. Do not take law into your own hands, or else you will be severely dealt with”, said Vellore SP Pakalavan.
Kancheepuram Superintendent of Police Santosh Hathimani too has warned of Goondas Act detention if anyone is caught hurting people suspecting them to be child-lifters.
The repeating mob violence against innocent people on mere suspicion they could be child-lifters is causing serious worry, not just to the government and the police but also for social activists and rights organisations. “While admitting that ground-level remedial actions such as tom-tom announcements and wall-posters play vital role in educating the public and preventing such brutality, the police must undertake macro-level steps to strengthen its intelligence network to snuff out mischievous false propaganda (on child-lifters) and prevent attacks”, said rights lawyer Sudha Ramalingam.
“Rather than waste most of the police resources on VIP security and bundobust, the government should deploy them for such community important tasks”, she added.
One more beaten to death
The death toll in child-trafficking rumour went up further after an unknown man was beaten to death near Ponneri on Wednesday night.
The cruelty of the angry mob did not stop there as they then tied the body of the victim to Pazhaverkadu bridge. According to sources, on Wednesday 10 pm, some passers-by noticed a man tied up to the Pazhaverkadu bridge and they informed the police.
When Thirupalaiva-nam police rushed to the spot they found a body of a man with several injuries. During investigation, it was learnt that the man was mentally unstable and was roaming in and around Ponneri and Pazhaverkadu area. “With rumours of child-trafficker north Indians camping in the state circulated on social media, residents of the area might have beaten the man to death, suspecting him as a trafficker,” a police source said.
Sadly, the incident happened on the same day, when Rukmani of Zamin Pallavaram was beaten to death on Wednesday in Tiruvannamalai suspecting her as child lifter.
A north Indian man was beaten by residents of Chinnaiyan Chatiram on April 28 and was admitted to government hospital.
Although the police claimed that the unknown man escaped from the hospital, a body of a north Indian, thought to be the victim of Chinnaiyan Chatiram lynching, was found on a road Kancheepuram, the next day....