Bidar (Karnataka): A 32-year-old software engineer working with Google was beaten to death and four others, including a Qatari national, were seriously injured over WhatsApp-driven rumours of child kidnapping in Karnataka's Bidar.
Local officials said that Mohammed Azam Ahmed of Malakpet, Hyderabad, who works with Google as a software engineer, died on the spot, while Qatari national Salham Eidal Kubaisi (38), and Noor Mohammed and Mohammed Salman from Barkas, Hyderabad suffered serious injuries.
An official from the Aurad Police Station, in whose area the lynching took place, said that three WhatsApp administrators who circulated the photos and messages that the four men were child lifters have been arrested.
“We have also arrested 32 people who were part of the mob,’’ the official said.
Kubaisi’s wife Zaibunnisa said that the four had set off from Hyderabad Friday morning to meet a relative at Bidar and attend a social function. After the function, they were en route to see a piece of land which they were interested in purchasing. The mob frenzy started after the Qatari national was seen distributing chocolates to local children.
“When they stopped for tea near a school at Murki village in Aurad taluka at about 4.30 pm, they saw school children heading home. Salham started distributing chocolates to students. However, someone raised an alarm that they were luring kids with chocolates", she said.
Soon, a large crowd gathered and started an argument and taking videos. Panicking, the men got into their car and drove away. Some of the villagers chased them on motorcycles, said the police. Some way off, the speeding car hit one of the motorcycles and fell into a culvert.
As the crowd caught up, the men were dragged out of the car and brutally beaten up, said eye witnesses. Hundreds of villagers gathered but none came to their rescue. By the time the police arrived, Mohammad Azam had died. The others were taken to the hospital in Hyderabad.
“The victims said villagers blocked the road with a felled tree. To avoid the blockade, Azam, who was driving, tried to go around it at high speed but ended up jumping over a culvert and the vehicle fell into the ditch. The mob pulled them out and beat them mercilessly,” said Ahmed Balala, MIM MLA from Malakpet.
“I met the victims and they said that two policemen reached the spot but could not prevent the mob from beating them up.” He also said that it was still not clear whether Azam Ahmed died due to injuries sustained when the vehicle went off the road or because he was beaten to death.
More than 20 people have been killed across India over fake WhatsApp rumours. The last such incident took place in Maharashtra's Dhule, where five people were locked in a room and were beaten to death.
Amidst the rising incidents of mob lynching, the government had asked WhatsApp to take immediate measutes to curb spread of rumours. The popular social media site last week announced some measures, including feature to label forwarded message.
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