A 26-year-old man was lynched to death in the heart of Bengaluru by residents of Chamarajpet in May this year, only because they believed he was a child abductor.
These residents, just like many in Andhra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu had become anxious after reading WhatsApp messages about child abductors on the prowl.
The Bengaluru police, which is investigating the death of 26-year-old Kalu Ram is now sending a fact-finding team to Rajasthan, which they believe is Kalu Ram’s home state.
The fact-finding team is set to gather more evidence and also record statements of the relatives of Kalu Ram.
Kalu Ram was brutally lynched by a mob in Bengaluru on May 23. Fourteen people were arrested by the Chamrajpet police and booked for murder, including two minor boys.
“I’m currently assembling a team to send to Rajasthan to gather more information about the deceased, and also take statements of his relatives. When this information is gathered, we will be filing the charge sheet in a few more days,” Ravi D Channannavar, DCP West, told TNM.
However, the Bengaluru police are still clueless about where these WhatsApp messages originated from.
Soon after Kalu Ram’s death and the outrage surrounding the fake WhatsApp messages, the Bengaluru Police Commissioner, T Suneel Kumar, had announced that the investigators have also enlisted the help of the Cyber Crime unit to trace the source of these messages.
When TNM caught up with Additional DCP of the Cyber Crime unit, Jinendra Khanagavi, he said he knew nothing about such an investigation.
“I don’t know anything about it. Only DCP West Ravi Channannavar knows about this case,” he added.
Several such spurious WhatsApp forwards have been making the rounds among residents of the city, warning them about alleged child kidnappers.
The Bengaluru police have issued several warnings asking the public not to fall for such forwards. They have also asked the public not to take the law into their own hands but rather inform and work with the police. The Bengaluru police have also said that criminal action will be taken against people who spread inflammatory messages.
Spate of incidents in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Mobs outraged by fake WhatsApp forwards chased a family of five in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvannamali district in early May this year, and they killed one woman in the group. An intellectually disabled man was attacked and hung by a mob in Palaverkadu in Tamil Nadu on May 9.
In neighbouring Telangana, Nimmala Balakrishna was killed on May 22 in Ziapalli, on the suspicion of being a child abductor, while two tribal youths were beaten in Nizamabad district on the same suspicion. One of them, Devya Naik succumbed to his injuries, while Degavath Laalu is said to be in critical condition in Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad.
The Telangana police have asked the public to maintain calm and cooperate with them.