COVID-19: 3 mistaken for thieves and lynched by mob during the lockdown

Updated: Apr 18, 2020, 06:47 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Two of the victims were priests travelling from Kandivli to Surat to attend the last rites of a head priest, the third was their driver; three FIRs have been lodged in the matter.

The trio was travelling to Surat when they were attacked in Palghar. Pic /Hanif Patel
The trio was travelling to Surat when they were attacked in Palghar. Pic /Hanif Patel

The police have arrested nearly a 110 people from the tribal community in Kasa area of Palghar District, for lynching three men on Thursday. The trio, including Shushil Giri, 35, Chikney Maharaj, 70, and Nilesh Tilghate, 30, were travelling in a car from Kandivali to Surat to attend the last rites of a head priest. Over a half dozen policemen who tried to rescue the victims have been injured and total of three FIRs have been registered in the offence. A fourth is being registered in Dadra Nagar Haveli.

Sources told mid-day that for the past four nights, the local residents of Mothapada, Lonipada, Dublipada, Asangaon, Vangaon and other villages in Dahanu have been patrolling the areas at night as mischief mongers have spread rumours that thieves could strike, taking advantage of the lockdown.

Mistaken as thieves

The Superintendent of Police, Palghar, Gaurav Singh, told mid-day that the trio, two of whom were priests, had taken a secret route to dodge police during the lockdown.

"The border area is sealed due to the lockdown. They started their road journey from Kandivali to Surat on Thursday night. In a bid to bypass police barricades, they took a side road and reached the village area in Kasa, where the local residents stopped their vehicle mistaking them to be thieves. There were nearly 450 people there and they toppled their vehicle," said Singh. This happened around 10 pm.

The police car damaged by the mob. PIC/Hanif Patel
The police car damaged by the mob. Pic/Hanif Patel

Forest officials patrolling in the area, immediately informed the Palghar police and a team from Kasa police station reached the spot to rescue the trio. Senior officers also reached.

"The mob was not convinced and started obstructing our policemen. They lynched the trio and manhandled policemen too," said Singh, who added that the three men were stoned and beaten to death by the aggressive mob, which dispersed after the crime in the night.

"The mob started pelting stones at policemen and a few of them were injured. In a bid to control the aggressive mob, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Jawahar, Bhagwat Sonawane, fired two rounds in the air," Singh added. On Friday morning, the Palghar police arrested around 110 people. They said number of those arrested would go up as a search operation is underway.

'Policemen attacked'

The superintendent of police further added that investigations are underway to find how the rumour of thefts started. He said three FIRs have been registered in the matter. " The first FIR was registered for threatening our police officers with death, the second is for murder and the third case has been registered for obstructing our work," said Singh. He said a fourth FIR is being registered at Dadra Nagar Haveli, as he claimed the mob threatened to kill their reinforcements arriving from there too.

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