In yet another incident of mob lynching over WhatsApp rumours of child kidnapping, a 32-year-old software engineer was beaten to death and four others, including a foreign national, seriously injured in Karnataka's Bidar district.
The mob mania started after Mohammad Salam, a resident of Qatar, started distributing chocolates to the children, the police said.
The deceased Mohammad Azam, a techy who was working with Google, had gone to Bidar on Friday along with four others to look for a piece land he was planning to purchase. They had stopped for tea near a school where Salam started distributing chocolates to the students.
People of the area thought they were trying to lure the children by giving them chocolates and started to gather at the spot. Sensing the trouble, the Azam and his friend quickly got into their car and fled. However, someone clicked their pictures and distributed on WhatsApp group saying they were kidnappers and should be stopped.
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The rumours soon spread like a fire in the area and villagers in the next village blocked the road with a felled tree. Azam, tried to avoid the blockade by taking the vehicle around it but fell down in a ditch. The locals gathered in the area taken them out and started beating them black and blue.
Police have arrested 32 people, including the admin of the WhatsApp group that spread the rumours, in connection with the lynching.
Four other friends of Azam, including the Qatar national, were shifted admitted to Bidar government hospital and later shifted to Hyderabad. One of them was stated to be in critical condition.