The deadly and fake WhatsApp forwards, claiming that child abductors are on the loose, has created panic across Karnataka, leading to mob violence in several parts. And days after a man was lynched to death by a mob in Bengaluru, news has come that several such incidents have happened in the city since May 18. Footage that has now come out of Gulbarga show a 35-year-old Sikh man being brutally assaulted by a mob in Gulbarga’s Sedam on May 19.
Alvar Singh was beaten up by a mob of around 50 people as they believed he was a child abductor.
According to Gulbarga SP M Satishkumar, the mob began questioning Alvar Singh about his presence in the area after they saw him carrying the kirpan, a Sikh religious symbol.
“The mob even tore his turban and cut off his hair. He was beaten badly,” said a police official at Sedam.
Alvar Singh had come to Sedam on May 16 after he got a job as a driver at a cement factory. Alvar was at the Kodla market when some shoppers spotted his kirpan and began questioning him as to why he was carrying a knife, police said.
“Alvar Singh cannot speak Kannada and the people there did not understand what he was saying. The people then began accusing him of being a child abductor as they had seen these WhatsApp forwards about people from Bihar and Odisha coming to Karnataka, abducting children and harvesting their organs. By then around 50 people had gathered, and began thrashing Alvar Singh,” the police said.
An investigating office said that a few people in the market advised the angry mob to hand him over to the police instead. “Some people pacified the mob and they brought Alvar Singh to the police station. That’s when we knew he was not a child abductor but had come to work as the driver of an earth mover for a cement company,” the Sedam Police said.
However, the torture did not stop there. Alvar Singh, who was rushed to the government hospital near Sedam, was once again attacked by a mob at the hospital. The hospital staff immediately alerted the police. “By the time the police arrived, the mob had dispersed,” the investigating officer added.
The Sedam Police have registered a case under section 143 (unlawful assembly), 326 (causing grievous hurt) and 149 (rioting) against unknown persons. No arrests have been made yet.
Sources in the Gulbarga district Superintendent of Police’s office told TNM that this is not the first instance where a mob has brutally trashed people believing that people were child abductors.
“Between May 18 and 21, three cases have been reported. One in RK Nagar Police Station limits where three homeless women were brutally trashed by a mob. However, the police intervened and counselled he people that the WhatsApp forwards are fake. In Jewargi, two men and one woman with intellectual disability were thrashed on May 20 as the people believed they were child abductors. Police intervened here as well and counselled the people about the fake forwards,” the source added.
However, in the RK Nagar and Jewargi cases, no FIR had been registered. Police sources say that the neglect was because the victims were homeless people.
In a barbaric act, 25-year-old Kalu Ramu was lynched to death by a mob of several hundred residents from Chamrajpet area on May 23.
The wrath of the residents of Anjanappa Garden in Chamarajpet was triggered by the sight of Ramu allegedly distributing chocolates and sweets to a few children. In a state of panic and angered by what they perceived as an intruder set out to harm their children, the residents descended upon Ramu and began beating him brutally with wooden sticks, iron rods and cricket bats.
Several terrifying videos of the violence doled out to Ramu have emerged, in which people are heard shouting “child abductor, beat him.”
Soaked in blood, Ramu was unconscious and did not have the strength to speak or even scream as the people brutally assaulted him.
As the incident gathered attention, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy too appealed to the people to stop believing these fake forwards and not resort to violence.