The Meghalaya Police arrested 25 people in East Khasi Hills district for allegedly killing a man and injuring eight others over suspicion of witchcraft, police said on Tuesday, March 10.
The youth - Macmilan Kharshandi - and his eight friends had gone to a picnic in Syntung on Sunday, March 8. On their way back in the night, the group was confronted by villagers near Passang, who believed that the group were menshohnoh - practitioners of witchcraft and black magic.
According to police, the attack was triggered by social media rumours about child-lifters.
"We picked up these people around 4 a.m. They said they presumed the nine men to be kidnappers as they were moving back and forth from one village to another at night. They had apparently been forewarned about the movement of suspicious people via social media," Claudia A. Lyngwa, District Superintendent of Police told The Hindu.
Three people were injured in the attack and six escaped to a nearby forest. While the police rescued the group, Kharshandi died on the way to the civil hospital in Shillong.
On Monday evening, March 9, police arrested 27 people after raiding the village in which the attack took place. However, two minors and one senior citizen were later released.
"A majority of those who participated in the lynching have been sent to judicial custody, while six were sent to police custody," Lyngwa said.