By Sadaf Modak

STATING THAT the five men men lynched in Dhule in 2018 had been the result of a mob’s fury fuelled by rumours, a sessions court said that the case highlighted how disinformation on social media may propagate “like a tornado affecting the daily routines and thought process of masses”. On Monday, the court sentenced seven men to life imprisonment, finding them guilty on charges including murder, kidnapping and assault under the Indian Penal Code.

The detailed order was made available on Wednesday.

“This case tells a compelling and horrendous tale that depicts the dark sides of modern-day India, with access to high speed internet. A looming environment of fear originating from the world of “rumours” brought about a carnage in a tiny and serene tribal village in the extreme corner of the State of Maharashtra. This case highlights how on social media slander and disinformation may propagate like a tornado affecting the daily routines and thought process of masses,” additional sessions judge F A M Khwaja said.

On July 1, 2018, five men belonging to the nomadic community, the Nath Panthi Davari Gosavi, were visiting the weekly market at Rainpada village. The men, Dadaram Bhosale, Bharat Bhosale, Raju Bhosale, Bharat Malve and Aganu Hingole, aged between 25-40 years of age, hailed from Solapur district. They had informed the local police that they were in the village begging for alms as their own village was in the grips of a famine. A rumour had then spread in the district that there were child kidnappers on the prowl. Due to this, the five men were looked at with suspicion and a mob attacked them. The men were restrained in the panchayat office and assaulted till their death.

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