The lynching of the two boys from Guwahati in Dokmoka of Karbi Anglong has raised many questions as to what had actually led to such a heinous crime. An active investigation by the Assam police is underway to ensure that not guilty party can escape from being punished. The State government is also taking steps to curb the menace of ‘Fake News’.
Till date, around 28 accused in the Dokmoka incident have been arrested. The arrested individuals are believed to be directly involved in the lynching along with the prime accused Alphajoz Timung. He reportedly instigated the mob, who mistook the two victims to be child kidnappers.
DGP Kuladhar Saikia in a press meet said, ‘In his initial statements Timung said that he charged Nilotpal and Abhijeet to be child kidnappers when they were in Kangthilangso Falls itself and got into a petty quarrel. When the two boys left the spot Timung informed the people in the villages that two child kidnappers were hovering around in a black scorpio in the area which led to the mob attack.’
Also, in a separate case filed, police have arrested around 5 people accused of spreading videos and news the whole incident online along with hate messages.
Karbi Anglong’s SP, V Sivaprasad Ganjala said, ‘As per the investigations so far, the incident occurred solely due to the rumors of child traffickers that had been spread in the village. Hence, we have filed two cases, one investigating the mob attack on the two victims and the other is to investigate the spread of rumors and hate messages online.’
He also stated, ‘The mob included 200 to 250 who came from the nearby villages to the spot of the incident within a short span of time.’
Immediate operations launched by the police forced the men in the villages to flee because they fearing they would be arrested. Geeta Khaklari, a resident of the Panjuri village shared, ‘The police came door to door in search of our men which forced them to escape and hide, as all of them are afraid.’ She also add, ‘The people had been frightened for a couple of weeks due to the news about child kidnappers. The incident occurred only due to the fear of child kidnappers and it was not at all intentional.’
Subba, the owner of the shop where Nilotpal and Abhijeet had entered on the night of the incident stated, ‘They seemed to be decent people. Both of them came to the shop at around 6:30 pm and bought chocolates and went back. Till then, nothing had happened. Though they looked alien and different from the people in our area, no one in the shop mistook them to be child kidnappers.’
The principal of the Bithilangso ME School stated, ‘People, for the last couple of weeks, were in fear of child traffickers, which is not at all true. But the fear led to the outrage of the villagers. And, all this happened as a result of the rumors that were spread online.’
The SP mentioned that the police will bring in as many individuals who were involved in the incident and will not spare a single person.
At the same time, they are also ensuring that the people do not panic while they are carefully carrying out the investigation.
Till now, it seems like the attack was fueled by the false rumour of child kidnappers on the prowl in the area. Though Digital India has made Facebook and WhatsApp easily accessible in the remotest areas in different districts across the states, it seems like many connected users, educated and/or illiterate, are not being able to differentiate between real news and fake news that they receive through social media. This incident is a real eye-opener to the harmful consequences of believing social media posts while discarding logic or rationale.
By Manjum Mahanta and Mukut Medhi