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Mob lynch men suspected of child kidnapping in India

Three Muslims beaten to death, police claim attack was not sectarian 

Mob lynch men suspected of child kidnapping in India

Photographs of missing Indian children displayed at a police station in New Delhi in this 2012 file image. A mob beat to death three Muslim men in Jharkhand state on May 18 who they suspected of being child kidnappers. An estimated 180 children go missing every day in India. (Photo by Manan Vatsyayana/AFP)

Saji Thomas, Bhopal
India

May 19, 2017

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Christian leaders are shocked to hear of a mob beating to death three Muslim men in a village in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

Police said the May 18 attack was in connection with tension in the area over child stealing.

"It is shocking," said Father David Vincent, vicar general of Jamshedpur Diocese that covers the area where the incident took place. "People taking the law into their hands is a dangerous signal for a civilized secular society," he told ucanews.com May 19.

Some 100 people blocked car in which the Muslim men, all cattle traders, were traveling in. Three were beaten to death on the spot and the fate of the fourth is unknown, local media reports said. Their car was also set on fire. 

Police said the men were attacked when people grew suspicious that they were part of gang of kidnappers and the incident was not connected with cow vigilantism.

Since May 2015, at least 12 people have been killed in the country for slaughtering cows, an animal regarded as holy by orthodox Hindus.

"Even if there is suspicion about someone kidnapping children, mob justice is not the solution. The suspects could have been handed over to the police rather than being beaten to death," Father Vincent said.

"Though the victims are Muslims there is no sectarian color to the incident. Villagers were gripped by fear of child stealers," police officer Prabhat Kumar told media. Police said they were mobilizing villagers to convince people that child stealing was only a rumor.

Seraikela-Kharsawan district, where the latest incident took place, has already reported more than 10 cases of strangers being attacked after being suspected of kidnapping. On May 10 and 11 two men — of unknown religious identities — were also lynched in a similar case in the same area.

Anita Hembrom, a social worker and member of the Church of North India, suspected the violence and killing stems from a traditional enmity between Hindus and Muslims. In the past two weeks minor clashes had taken place in the area and it must have culminated with mob fury, she said.

Tomson Thomas, Jharkhand state secretary of the India Pentecostal Church of God, condemned the incident. "This kind of savagery has no justification."

"Humanity is shamed," Thomas told ucanews.com adding that such violence must be "dealt with very sternly so that no one should dare to do it again."

An estimated 180 children go missing in India every day and more than 80 percent of them are never found, according to child rights organization Child Relief and You. Most children are stolen and used for organ trading, beggar syndicates, commercial sex and other such crimes.

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