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20 May 2017

Lynch rerun claims 3 more - Mob of 2000 kill men in search of work near steel city, 24-hour toll 7

Kumud Jenamani and Animesh Bisoee, TT, Jamshedpur, May 19: Three youths were lyn-ched by 2,000 people before five policemen in Bagbera, 10km from the heart of the steel city in East Singhbhum, late last nig-ht over child-lifting suspicions, which along with yesterday's murders of four cattle traders in Rajnagar, Seraikela-Kharsawan, took the toll to seven in less than 24 hours.
An unprepared police force could not save the three Hindu youths from mob murder at Bagbera around 10pm yesterday, hours after four Muslim cattle traders were killed in Rajnagar, confirming police assertions of no communal angle to these grisly crimes. Condemning the Rajnagar and Bagbera murders, chief minister Raghubar Das has promised Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the kin of each deceased while state DGP D.K. Pandey called for public awareness on radio and FM to combat rumours on social media, including WhatsApp, on child-lifting when no such instance had taken place.
Brothers Vikas and Gautam Verma, aged 28 and 26, and their friend Gangesh Gupta, 25, all residents of Ramtekri Road, Jugsalai, were beaten to death by the mob and the brothers' grandmother Ramsakhi Devi, 70, critically injured on Nagadih-Ghaghidih Road in Bagbera. A team of five policemen stood helpless.
The third of the Verma brothers Uttam, 23, who managed to escape, recounted how the uproar started.
Though a sizeable number of police had arrived at the spot by 9pm, a mob of about 2,000 people, most of them drunk, tied the victims to a pole and thrashed them with sticks and boulders in the presence of the police.
Apparently, the three brothers who were in the business of constructing septic tanks at homes of urban slums and suburban villages, had gone on two bikes last evening to survey areas where there was scope of getting some work orders. They also fixed flex banners with phone numbers at many places to attract customers.
After fixing a banner at Nagadih in Bagbera at 7pm, Gautam suggested scouting for customers at a slum nearby. As Uttam kept guard over bikes, Vikas and Gautam walked towards the Nagadih bustee when some youths accosted them and wanted to know what they were doing there. When the brothers said they were from Jusgalai, the Nagadih people asked for identity cards.
Though Vikas showed them his driving licence, the crowd, which was swelling by the minute, was not satisfied and asked them to call some family member for Aadhaar or voter ID cards.
When Gautam called up his grandmother Ramsakhi Devi at home, the 70-year-old woman had the presence of mind to inform Bagbera police and then call up a neighbourhood boy, Gangesh, to give her a lift to the place the trio were held hostage. By the time the Bagbera OC and four constables reached the site, the crowd had swelled to at least 500 and was getting angrier every minute. Taking advantage of the momentary commotion, Uttam escaped, but the police could not save Vikas and Gautam from being tied to a pole.
When their grandmother and Gangesh reached the site, the hostile crowd had started branding Vikas and Gautam child-lifters and hitting them with sticks and stones. Seeing Gangesh, they dubbed him part of the gang and beat him up. When the grandmother protested, she was struck with a boulder.
Bagbera OC Amish Hussain said he had gone to the spot thinking a small group of people were creating trouble in the name of child-lifting, of late a frequent occurrence in these rural and semi-rural areas.
"But reaching there I found a mob of 500 people. We were just five policemen. How could I have ordered a lathicharge?" he said.
He added he asked for more forces, but most personnel were at Rajnagar in Seraikela-Kharsawan. By then, the crowd had swelled to 2,000 as people rushed to see the trio and beat or stone them. Around 10pm, around 60 policemen came from Bagbera, Jugsalai and Parsudih in seven vans but by then the three youths were almost dead. The crowd pelted the police with stones, injuring six, and damaging two vehicles. By the time the police caned the crowd and dispersed them, it was 12.30am today.
Nagadih mukhiya Rajaram Hansda claimed he tried to stop the crowd but no one listened. He alleged the police stood at a safe distance after their initial attempts to set the hostages free.
City DSP Animesh Nathani conducted a flag march at Nagadih, where 200 armed policemen have already been deployed to prevent any recurrence. There was a flag march this evening too.
This morning, police also recovered the body of cattle trader Sheikh Halim (28), the one whose fate was unknown in the Rajnagar lynching, from Dangodungri, a hillock behind Shobhapur village. Seraikela-Kharsawan SP Rakesh Bansal said over phone from Rajnagar that Halim, a resident of Haldipokhar, had possibly been lynched at Dangodungri. His friends Sheikh Naim, Sheikh Sajju and Sheikh Siraj had been lynched earlier.

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