Killer mes­sage

The dan­gers of fake news be­come alarm­ing as five no­mads are lynched in Ma­ha­rash­tra af­ter a doc­tored video of child lifters spreads fear and hate.

FrontLine - - CRIME - BY ANU­PAMA KATAKAM IN RAINPADA, DHULE

RAINPADA in Dhule dis­trict is one among the sev­eral Adi­vasi ham­lets that dot the hilly re­gion on the Ma­ha­rash­tra-gu­jarat bor­der. An out­post with a pop­u­la­tion of just 900, which barely sees any ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic bar­ring a few mo­tor­cy­cles and the oc­ca­sional State transport bus, its re­mote­ness is strik­ing. On July 1, this agri­cul­tural vil­lage shed its ob­scu­rity when it wit­nessed a grue­some in­ci­dent: a mob lynched five men, sus­pect­ing them to be child lifters. The five men be­longed to the no­madic Nath Gosavi com­mu­nity, whose mem­bers wan­der in search of food and work from place to place.

An in­ci­dent such as this, hap­pen­ing that too in a re­mote and sparsely in­hab­ited vil­lage, gave rise to sev­eral ques­tions: Why is the num­ber of lynch­ing in­ci­dents in­creas­ing? What were the vic­tims do­ing in a re­mote vil­lage, which rarely sees out­siders? How did in­for­ma­tion about their pres­ence spread so quickly? How did the mob form so quickly and reach Rainpada in less than an hour? Where were the law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties?

Since the be­gin­ning of this year, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Jhark­hand have wit­nessed nine lynch­ings each, Tripura three, West Ben­gal and As­sam two each and Gu­jarat, Ch­hat­tis­garh, Tamil Nadu, Kar­nataka and Te­lan­gana one each.

The Rainpada in­ci­dent, like in the other in­stances else­where, ex­poses the dan­gers of dig­i­tal technology, es­pe­cially mis­in­for­ma­tion spread via mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions

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such as What­sapp. The state does not seem to be equipped to han­dle the speed, growth and spread of fake news on so­cial me­dia. The killings brought out the plight of no­madic tribes who have been vic­tims of vi­o­lence and the ne­glect of Adi­vasi set­tle­ments. This cor­re­spon­dent spoke to Rainpada res­i­dents, the po­lice and peo­ple work­ing with the Adi­vasi com­mu­ni­ties to un­der­stand an is­sue that ap­pears to have few an­swers.

the five men be­long­ing to the Nath Gosavi com­mu­nity who were lynched at Rainpada vil­lage, 75 kilo­me­tres from Dhule in Ma­ha­rash­tra.

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