Karnataka :A 32-year-old software engineer was beaten to death and four others including a Qatar national were seriously injured over WhatsApp rumours of a child kidnapping in Karnataka’s Bidar. The police said that it all started after the man from Qatar was seen distributing chocolates to local children. The police have arrested 32 people.
The techie, Mohammad Azam, had gone for a drive on Friday with four others when they were stopped at the roadside. Azam’s friend Mohammad Salam, who from Qatar, was seen handing chocolates to children.
Rumours of child lifting were doing the rounds in the area and seeing the chocolates being handed out, residents of the nearby Murki village sent messages on a WhatsApp group.
Soon, a large crowd gathered and started an argument and taking videos. Panicking, the men drove away in their car while some of the villagers chased them on motorcycles, said the police. Some way off, the speeding car hit one of the motorcycles.
As the crowd caught up, the men were dragged out and were brutally beaten up, said the eye witnesses. Though hundreds of villagers had gathered but none came to their rescue. By the time the police arrived, Mohammad Azam had died. The others were taken to the hospital in Hyderabad.
“They had gone out for a drive. My brother gave chocolates to children. We don’t know what their parents thought but several villagers gathered and beat them. How can they think they were kidnappers?” said Mohammad Azam’s brother Akram. Appealing to the government to stop mob killings, Akram said, “My brother was a software engineer, father of a 2-year-old. He was just a regular guy”.
The other four cousins and friends of Azam were severely injured. One of them is fighting for his life at a local hospital.
Among the 32 arrested for the killing, one is the administrator of the WhatsApp group. Women were also there among the arrested, sources said.
More than 20 people have been killed across India over fake WhatsApp rumours. The last such incident took place in Maharashtra’s Dhule, where five people were killed. The WhatsApp videos that had triggered the attack were fake – one of them was a five-year-old video from Syria that had photographs of children who died in a nerve gas attack.
In Karnataka, one person was killed in Salem. Another – a 26-year-old labourer from Rajasthan – was beaten to death in state capital Bengaluru.