As rumours about child-lifters are flying thick and fast across the country, incidents of mob-lynching continue to paint horrific images of violence every other day.
Barely ten hours after five people were lynched in Dhule district of Maharashtra, another such incident of mob vigilantism was reported in Malegaon, Nashik on Sunday night, where five persons, including two women and an infant, were attacked by a mob after rumours that they were trying to kidnap a child.
However, the bravery and quick-thinking of a few locals averted the life-threatening harm that the mob could have caused to their lives.
The victims had initially planned to go to Dhule to find daily wage, however, when the child in the group fell sick, they changed their plan and decided to return to home in Manmad, 35 km away from Malegaon. The Times Of India report says that they got down at Malegaon to seek alms near Roshanabad area, while News18 report says that the said incident took place in Manmad.
Upon arriving, they stopped a 13-year-old boy, who was returning from Arabic classes, to ask for directions. They spoke in Marathi, which the boy could not comprehend. He then rushed home and told his parents that they were allegedly dragging him. This sparked the rumour of ‘bachcha chor,’ and soon a mob gathered at the spot near the civic-run Ali Akbar Hospital and set upon the villagers.
When the group was just about to be attacked by the mob, a local youth identified as Shaikh Wasim Shaikh Karim, a fruit seller and his uncle Rasheed Rationwala hid all five into Rationwala’s house and a small textile mill (stocking raw material and textile). Sheikh also tried telling the mob that he had previously also seen the group in the village, but the mob did not relent. Shaikh and his uncle managed to keep the angry mob at the bay until police rescued them.
Few minutes before midnight, 130 cops from all eight police stations in Malegaon, as well as the State Reserve Police Force and Riot Control Police, reached the spot and brought the situation under control. The police formed a human wall and first took the villagers to Camp police station in Malegaon and later took them to an undisclosed location. Additional Superintendent of Police, Harsh Poddar said that the mob so violent that they even damaged and overturned a police van.
The rescued persons were- Gajanan Hiray (30), his wife Sindhu (28), their two-year-old son, Yogesh Wani (30) and Ansuya Wani (30). “They told us they were asking the 13-year-old boy the way out from that area,” Poddar told TOI. “We are going through CCTV footage to establish the identity of those who pelted stones,” he added.
A senior local journalist, Khaleel Abbas spoke to Gajanan Hiray at the police station. He said “Hiray told me they had left their village for work and asked why they would lift anyone’s child when they already had a child of their own with them”
SP Poddar hailed the owners of the mill Afreen Sizing Works and Rasheed Rationwala for saving the five villagers from the mob.
Rationwala said “We want to send out a message that Muslims don’t kill, they save people. I kept the five in my house to save humanity.”