Mr Sukanta Chakraborty aged 33, appointed by the Tripura State Government to campaign and spread awareness against the spread of fake news and rumours, was lynched in Kalachakra, Tripura on late June 28. He was one of the three people who was lynched to death in Tripura in a span of two days following rumours of child-lifting for organ trade through social media.
The local media talked an official who told, “Sukanta Chakraborty was attacked when he was appealing to the public on behalf of the administration not to heed to rumours. Senior civil and police officials have rushed to these areas, and additional security has been deployed to control the situation,” an official told the local media”, reported The Outlook India.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), Smriti Ranjan Das was quoted by The Hindu when she said, “A mob attacked his vehicle at Kalachhara when he was returning to Sabroom. He died but his driver, who too was beaten up, escaped with injuries.”
Chakraborty was a mike announcer, hired by Tripura’s Information and Culture department. Further, two more officials along with him were also beaten by the mob at Manu Bazar, while they were publicising the child-lifting rumours to be false. The government vehicles were also damaged in the incident.
A hawker and a mentally challenged woman lynched
In a separate incident earlier, which occurred in Murabari, three hawkers, Gulzar, Khurshid Khan and Zahir Khan, were beaten by a mob of 300-400, after they were suspected of being child-lifters. One of them Zahir Khan, from Uttar Pradesh who was selling garments and cutleries in the state for the past 20 years died on the spot.
The AIG told the media that the trio came to Murabari at 9:30 AM for trade purposes. Furthermore, he said, “they had hired a vehicle from Bitterban, an urban slum here, and when they reached the area, people suspecting them to be child lifters started beating them up”.
The trio then fled with their driver and reached a Tripura State Rifles (TSR) Camp. Reportedly, even though the police used force to disperse the mob, it was in vain as they stormed the camp and lynched one of the victims.
Zahir Khan then died on the spot, while the other two and their driver are seriously injured and have been admitted to the GB Pant Hospital. Constable Sumit Samyal was also injured in the mob lynching incident.
Additionally, a mentally challenged woman again thought to be a kidnapper was also lynched at Bishalgarh in the Sepahijhala district.
Mobile internet services banned for 48 hours
In lieu of the incidents, Director-General of Police (DG) Akhil Kumar Shukla issued a diktat to suspend all internet services for the next 48 hours. The India Today quoted him when he said,” It has been noticed that SMS, WhatsApp and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are widely used for transmission of fake images and videos as well as text messages which have potential to incite violence in the state at a larger rate”.
Chief Minister Biplab Deb warning a severe action against those spreading rumours in social media said, “nobody would be allowed to take law in his or her hands, and strict action would be taken against those who indulge in violence and attack innocent people”, The Free Press Journal noted.
The beginning of lynching
The News Click reported that the lynchings in Tripura began after the death of an eleven-year-old boy named Purno Biswas, son of a daily wage worker. His body had multiple wounds. The state law minister Ratan Lal Nath visited the mourning family, after which a video was released of the minister suggesting that the cause of death was due to his organs being removed. The video went viral on social media.
The autopsy, however, revealed that all organs were intact, but the damage due to his statement had been done. The Tripura police have also released a notice on their twitter account, asking people to beware of fake news.
The Logical Indian Take
These are some of the many incidents of mob lynching which have been plaguing the country society for some time now. In the past two months, dozens of people have been brutally beaten to death across the country. Men and women, Hindus and Muslims, young and the old, no one was spared from the hands of an angry mob. Most of them because of a rumour of child abductors going berserk and kidnapping children and killing them. While it is understandable that for people from rural India, it is hard to distinguish between genuine and fake news, it is surprising that the so-called “educated” urban mass is also falling prey to this.
The content on WhatsApp is mostly user-generated. They are neither scrutinised (the way news is) nor is it verified. Any photos or videos can be posted putting any context. In the last one month, there have been seven instances of goons taking law into their own hands and becoming murderers.
So many awareness programmes have been held across the country, urging people not to believe in WhatsApp forwards. There have been press conferences and also awareness is being raised on some social media sites asking people not to believe in all these. This shows that it is easier to spread fake news than the truth.
Nobody is allowed to take law into their own hands just because they think the person on the receiving end of the blows has committed a crime. It is illegal in India and a punishable offence. Please, refrain from being part of the mob and be a part of the solution. Inform people that mob lynchings are a crime. In most cases, the perpetrators have been arrested.
The police have been doing their part in most cases but innocent lives are still being lost. However, law and order situation needs to be improved if these goons can commit these crimes with such impunity.
Also published on Medium.