In a shocking incident incident, a 65-year-old Chennai woman was lynched in a Thiruvannamalai village after being mistaken for a child trafficker.
Rukmani, who lived in Old Pallavaram in Chennai, and her relatives were driving around Athirmoor village near Polur, Thiruvannamalai, in search of their Kula deivam or family temple when the lynching took place.
A mob of around 200 villagers mistook the party for a group of child traffickers – they began beating them up and killed Rukmani on the spot. The four others, Chandrasekaran (34), Mohan Kumar (34) and Venkatesan (51), along with car driver Gajendran, who were in the car with her were grievously injured in the attack.
Speaking to TNM, Superintendent of Police, R Ponni said that the incident had sparked off when the victims stopped to ask an old lady for directions.
"The group had crossed the Athimoor village near Polur, via Jamunamarathur, when they stopped near an old lady's house to ask for directions to the temple. None of them had visited the village in a long time and two of them were from Malaysia. When they stopped to ask for directions, they gave chocolates to two children playing near the road. The old lady, on seeing this, alerted the villages saying that they were child traffickers. Within no time, hundreds of villagers gathered and started questioning the group,"
Despite stating that they were from Chennai and had visited the village to go their family temple, the mob was unconvinced and started beating them up with sticks.
"The senior officers from Thiruvannamalai arrived at the scene almost immediately. However, we couldn't stop the lynching as there were too many of them," said Ponni.
The villagers, who were on edge after seeing videos of child trafficking on WhatsApp, assumed that Rukmani and her relatives were here to kidnap the kids, according to Ponni.
Despite the 65-year-old lady dying on the spot, the irate mob stripped the others and continued to assault them. Even the car they traveled in toppled over in the attack. An ambulance arrived and the others were rushed to the Government hospital at Thiruvannamalai.
"Their family members arrived later and now they have been shifted to the Vellore Medical College Hospital at Adukkamparai," said Ponni.
Some of the observers even captured videos and photos of the incident, which have been doing the rounds now.
"We have received the videos using which we have traced the culprits. We will be remanding 23 people for this incident," she said.
A week ago, on April 29, a 30-year-old man was similarly mistaken for a thief and lynched to death at Gudiyatham town in Vellore.