AGARTALA: A 33-year-old man engaged by the Tripura government to dispel rumours about child-lifters on social media was lynched by villagers, who, ironically, took him to be a kidnapper. The lynching at Kalacherra Bazaar in South Tripura district late on Thursday night came hours after a garment seller was beaten to death by villagers in Mohanpur in West Tripura district for similar reasons.
Sukanta Chakrabarty, who had been moving from village to village with a loudspeaker asking people not to get swayed by rumours, was caught and beaten to death. Two other men who were accompanying Chakrabarty were also assaulted. The vehicle they were travelling in was also damaged.
“The incident took place when Chakrabarty and his companions reached Kalacherra in the evening. Local youth attacked them on suspicion of their being child thieves,” SP (South Tripura) Jalsingh Meena said. “The villagers attacked the three even though they kept saying they were sent by the government for the good of the people,” he added.
On Friday, police began an investigation into the attack and took four people into custody. Villages in the border state, where BJP came to power for the very first time in March, were on edge ever since rumours about the killing of an 11-yearold boy by suspected organ smugglers circulated earlier this week.
Sukanta was lynched hours after three garment sellers from Uttar Pradesh — Zaheer Khan, Khurshid Khan and Guljar Khan, were attacked by villagers in Mohanpur, which is close to a Tripura State Rifles camp. Khurshid and Guljar managed to escape along with their driver, Swapan Miah, with the help of TSR personnel. One person was arrested in connection with this case.
Chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb appealed to people to maintain peace and not pay heed to rumours. He alleged that CPM is trying to tarnish the image of his government. The state government imposed a ban on internet and SMS services for 48 hours on Thursday night.
This came after DGP AK Shukla informed the home department that SMS and social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter were being misused for spreading rumours and fake images. Law minister Ratanlal Nath and BJP state general secretary Pratima Bhowmik said they have alerted party workers to thwart similar attacks.