Three unidentified people, including a 70-year-old, were lynched on Thursday night allegedly by over 100 people who suspected them of theft in Gadchinchle village of Palghar, Maharashtra.
"The preliminary reports suggest that these three had come from Kandivali and were on their way to Surat (in Gujarat). They were declared brought dead at the hospital. About 110 villagers were brought to police station for questioning," said Collector Kailash Shinde on Friday.
He also said that the villagers can be seen with stones in their hands in a clip of the incident which surfaced later. And that they even broke the windows of the car of the deceased men.
The villagers also attacked the police personnel when they tried to stop them and the personnel sustained injuries in the incident, he said.
Reportedly, rumours of a gang stealing children had gone viral throughout the area in the last few days. The crowd is believed to have suspected that the three men belonged to the gang and attacked them.
"I want to appeal to everyone to not believe in rumours. No one is coming to steal from your village or take your child's kidneys. Villagers have taken the matter into their hands and we will take necessary action," Shinde added.
In the latest development, K Shinde, District Magistrate, Palghar said, "A video related to incident is viral on social media, in which it can be seen that villagers damaged car of the deceased using sticks, stones&other objects. Police reached spot immediately but still villagers continued to attack the three men."
The three men who were killed have been identified as Sushil Giri Maharaj (35), Nilesh Telgane (35) and Chikane Maharaj Kalpavrikshgiri (70). Two of them were sadhus. According a report in NDTV, they were travelling towards Surat to attend the funeral of a common acquaintance.
Meanwhile, Ashoke Pandit, Shefali Vaidya and Payal Rohatgi have lashed out at the Uddhav Thackeray-led government after the video surfaced on the internet.
Filmmaker and Social Activist Ashoke Pandit wrote, "Is this the way #Hindus are going to be butchered under your rule. This is a visual from #Palghar near Mumbai. @OfficeofUT @AnilDeshmukhNCP @PawarSpeaks @RahulGandhi @milinddeora Please suspend all these police officers & initiate an high power inquiry & arrest the criminals."
Author and political commentator Shefali Vaidya said, "I can’t get over how nonchalantly the police handed over those two old Hindu Sadhus to the mob in Palghar and watched them get beaten to death! But @OfficeofUT @PawarSpeaks @AjitPawarSpeak don’t care. The CM is busy doing a Facebook live asking people to play carrom!"
Actor Payal Rohatgi tweeted, "Ram Ram ji @OfficeofUT is this the kind of COMMUNAL behaviour U were talking few days back ????? It is being done in front of police What a SHAME #Sadhu that also OLD man was LYNCHED by a MOB in coronavirus lockdown."
(With ANI inputs)