62 arrested, prime accused still absconding; Sonowal to introduce sensitisation programme, Akhil demands CBI probe

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, June 12: Altogether 62 persons have so far been arrested from different parts of Assam in the brutal killing of two men in Karbi Anglong and spreading rumours and hate messages on social media that fuelled the sensational incident.

Two persons were on Tuesday 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, a senior police official 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.

Three more persons have been arrested in connection with the lynching of two young men on suspicion of being child lifters in Karbi Anglong on Tuesday, taking the number of people arrested in the case so far to 26.

However, the prime accused Alfa Timung and his aide Dhaniram Teron are still absconding and the policed continued their search operations to trace them out, he said.

On the other hand, three persons have been arrested in connection with Diphu police station case No.123/2018 u/s 120(B)/153(A)/ 504/505(2)/506/507 and Section 66F of I.T Act. They have been found involved either in the capturing of video of the incident of killing of Nilotpal and Abhijeet on June 8 at Panjuri Gaon or were responsible for circulating the video on social media forum with statements, comments to create enmity, hatred between different communities , provoking breach of peace, strike terror in the people, causing intimidation etc, the police official said.

Additional director general of police (law and order) Mukesh Agarwal has been monitoring the investigations into the case. Apart from 24, five others were arrested from Diphu town on Tuesday for misuse of social media in connection with the incident.

“They have been found to be involved either in recording the incident on mobile phones or circulating the video clip on social media with statements, comments to incite hatred between different communities,” he also said.

The crackdown on the misuse of social media was launched by the police as investigations have brought to light that messages posted on social media on child lifters having entered the state from outside, may have led to the lynching of the two men.

The police have issued an advisory asking people to help prevent spread of rumours on social media.

The Assam government plans to introduce an awareness programme in all development blocks and panchayats of the state in the wake of incidents triggered by superstition and rumours, including the lynching of two young men.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in Guwahati on Monday night, an official release said in Guwahati on Tuesday.

Sonowal asked the authorities to frame modalities and a roadmap for implementing 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,” the release said quoting the chief minister.

Meanwhile, the parents of Nilotpal – Gopal Chandra Das and Radhika Das – have appealed to the people not to give credence to rumours. They also urged the people not to politicise the issue.

“We are grateful to all for extending their support to us in this hour of grief but we appeal to all to maintain peace and calm”, they said in a statement issued in Guwahati.

They have also appealed to the government to ensure that no more lives were lost due to superstitious beliefs and to create awareness in each village of the state by involving all parties, organisations, students’ unions and others.

On the other hand, RTI activist and peasant leader Akhil Gogoi has demanded a CBI probe into the episode and accused the RSS-BJP of “indulging in politics” to divert peoples’ attention from “real issues”.

“What has happened is an unbelievable ghastly act. Strangely, the government has formed an SIT headed by the Karbi Anglong SP, who was responsible for jurisdiction of the area where the crime took place. It will be a mockery of probe. We demand a CBI enquiry into the case,” Gogoi said.

The RSS and the BJP are indulging in “politics of superstition and rumours”, he also said. “The saffron parties are the ones spreading rumours and communally polarised fake news. These two youth have become the victims of such rumours spread through social media,” Gogoi added.

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