At least 23 people have been arrested in connection with the lynching of five people by a mob in Maharashtra's Dhule district over suspicion of "child kidnapping".
"We have arrested 23 people in connection with the incident. A few more have been identified and five teams have been formed to nab them," Dhule Superintendent of Police (SP) M Ramkumar told PTI.
The incident took place at Rainpada, 25 kilometres from Pimpalner in Dhule district, at around 11.30 am on Sunday, officials said.
The five, along with a few others, were seen getting down from a state transport bus in the tribal-dominated Rainpada hamlet, police said.
When one of them apparently tried to speak to a girl child, the villagers, who had gathered for the weekly Sunday market, pounced on them, they said.
An official at the Pimpalner police station said that the five people died after being assaulted. Their identities have not been established yet.
Two policemen were also injured in the incident, he added.
The bodies have been shifted to the rural hospital in Pimpalner and police teams were maintaining a vigil in the Rainpada area under the supervision of IG (Nashik range) Chhering Dorje and other senior officers, an official said.
According to police, rumours that a gang of child lifters was active in the area were doing the rounds for a few days.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Deepak Kesarkar has appealed to people not to believe in rumours being circulated on social media.
On June 28, 33-year-old Sukanta Chakrabarty was lynched at Kalachhara in South Tripura district. He was a member of a team set up by the state government to campaign against rumour-mongering.
An unidentified woman and a hawker from Uttar Pradesh were also lynched the same day at Bishalgarh in Sipahijala district and Murabari in West Tripura district respectively. Several people were also injured in the three incidents.
(With PTI inputs)