A man was killed by a mob in Tripura on Thursday, as he was suspected of child-lifting. It was later found out that the victim, Sukanta Chakraborty was hired by the Information and Culture Department in Tripura to campaign against rumour mongering – over prowling child lifters. He was allegedly attacked in Kalachhara, an area north of Agartala close to the border with Bangladesh. Chakraborty is the third person in two days who was killed by a mob in the state over the allegations of child nabbing.
Earlier a mentally unsound woman had been attacked by a mob at Bishalgarh in Sepahijhala district. In Murabari, West Tripura, a mob had beaten three hawkers from Uttar Pradesh and chased them into a Tripura State Rifles (TSR) camp. Despite firing blank rounds and tear gas shells, the mob only left after they had beaten one of the men to death. A TSR jawan also sustained injuries amidst the mayhem.
This latest round of lynchings bears an eerie resemblance to other actions of 'mob justice'in other parts of the country. In July 2017, seven men were killed by a mob in Jharkhand over rumours that they were child lifters. In February this year, two Sikh men were killed by a mob in Kamrup district, Assam over rumours that they were child lifters. In May three people in Andhra Pradesh, one in Karnataka and a woman in Tamil Nadu were killed by mobs, again on the suspicions of being 'child-lifters'.
Read More: Assam Lynching: Rumours and State Legitimacy
On June 8, two men from Guwahati were lynched on suspicion of being child lifters by a mob in Dokmoka, Karbi Anglong. Later, during the same month, a woman was lynched in Ahmedabad over rumours on social media that she was a child lifter. She was later identified as a beggar who had come to Ahmedabad from Rajasthan and was living with other women on the outskirts of the city.
Read More: Social Activists Allege: Superstition Was Behind the Dokmoka Lynching
However, lynchings in Tripura started with the death of an eleven-year-old boy whose body was found with multiple injuries on Tuesday. The deceased, Purno Biswas, was the son of a daily wage earner in Mohanpur. The legislative assembly representative, and state Law Minister, Ratan Lal Nath had gone to visit the child's family the same day in the evening. After the meeting, a video was released where Nath said that the injuries sustained by the boy suggested that the child's organs had been harvested. This went viral on the social media.
The Chief Minister, Biplab Kumar Deb was also quoted by the local media saying that the border would be sealed to ensure the organ traffickers do not escape. However, the post-mortem report of the boy showed that all his organs were intact. Though the origins of rumours in other cases cannot always be ascertained, in Tripura lynching's case, it appears that the rumours originated from the careless comments of the state legislators.