Dhule lynching: Police struggles to convince villagers to testify in lynching case

Mumbai: The tall claims of Maharashtra government that it intends to conduct a “fast-track” trial in the case of lynching of five tribal men in Dhule are likely to fall flat if the local police fails to convince villagers of the Rainpada village to testify.

The Dhule police is struggling hard to convince the villagers to become witnesses in the case, to establish the guilt of nearly 26 residents of the Rainpada village. Five men were brutally assaulted and lynched to death on July 1 on the suspicion that they were child-lifters. Though it is claimed that the incident was spurred by “rumours” of active presence of a child-lifting gang in the area, the Dhule police is yet to adduce a single piece of evidence to link the lynching to rumours supposedly doing the rounds on social media forums like WhatsApp.

While speaking with the Free Press Journal, Ram Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Dhule, said the investigators have served summons on more than 15 villagers. “We have issued summons but it is really challenging to convince them to testify as the accused, too, hail from the same village. And with some they even have family ties.’’ Kumar said. The investigating team has also issued summons to nearly 10 other villagers who had recorded videos of the lynching incident. “These are the villagers from whose cell phones we recovered the video of the brutal incident. These 10 men have been asked to become approvers  in the case,” Kumar said.

“The testimony of these 10 villagers is crucial. It will reinforce our case but convincing them, too, is a challenging task,” Kumar added. If these villagers refuse to step forward, then the police has no option but to rely on the statements of the accused. “It is their choice to become approver or witness. If they refuse, we cannot do anything,” Kumar explained. Meanwhile, the police has arrested two more accused in the case. They are also seen in the video assaulting the five tribals. Their statements will be soon recorded, Ramkumar said.

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