As many as 62 persons have so far been arrested from different parts of Assam in the brutal killing of two men in Karbi Anglong district and spreading rumours and hate messages on social media that fuelled the sensational incident. Two friends -- Nilotpal Das, 29, and Abhijeet Nath, 30 -- were on Friday pulled out of their vehicle at Panjuri in Karbi Anglong district and beaten to death by a group of irate villagers, who suspected them to be child-lifters.
The incident was recorded by locals on their mobile phones and circulated on social media. Protests continued across the north eastern state over the dastardly incident. Two persons were today arrested, taking the tally of the number of arrests in the case to 26.
Also, 13 persons were arrested on Tuesday for misuse of social media in connection with the killing of the duo, taking the tally of such arrests to 36, an Assam Police spokesperson said. Seven persons each were arrested from Nagaon and Karbi Anglong districts, six from Sonitpur and three each from Kamrup Metropolitan and Darrang, he added. Besides, two each from Biswanath, Sadiya and Dhubri have been arrested, while one each from Hojai, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh and Barpeta districts were arrested in connection with spreading rumours on social media, the official said.
The crackdown on the misuse of social media was launched by the police after initial investigations suggested that messages posted on social media about child-lifters entering the state from outside may have led to the lynching episode.
The police have also issued an advisory asking people to refrain from spreading rumours on social media. Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal is monitoring the situation on the spot and also the search operations by security forces. Meanwhile, the Assam government announced to introduce an awareness programme in all development blocks and panchayats of the state in the wake of incidents triggered by rumours and superstition.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked the authorities to frame modalities and a roadmap to implement the awareness programme 'Sanskaar' at all levels, in coordination with local bodies, women organisations and media persons. 'Assam is known all over India for its unique hospitality and people coming from all over the country must feel an ambience of friendliness where ever they go in the state,' a release quoting the chief minister said.
Right to Information activist and peasant leader Akhil Gogoi expressed shock over the incident and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the episode. Earlier in the day, parents of Nilotpal Das urged people to desist from politicising the issue. 'We are grateful to all for extending their support to us in this hour of grief but we appeal to maintain peace and calm,' they said in a statement issued Guwahati. During the day, protests took place in some places in the state with agitators blocking a road at Hojai by burning tyres. They demanded exemplary punishment to the culprits.