42 in custody after lynching rape suspect in India

2015-03-09 19:12
Indian policemen detain activists of Asomiya Yuva Mancha (AYM) during a protest against the lynching of a man accused of rape in front of Nagaland House in Gauhati. (AP)

Indian policemen detain activists of Asomiya Yuva Mancha (AYM) during a protest against the lynching of a man accused of rape in front of Nagaland House in Gauhati. (AP)

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New Delhi - Indian police said on Monday they have charged 42 people after the killing and lynching of a rape suspect who was dragged from his prison cell, with more arrests overnight.

Police have charged the men with rioting, arson and unlawful assembly over the attack by a frenzied mob on Syed Farid Khan in northeastern Nagaland state, widely condemned as a barbaric act of vigilante justice.

Thousands of people stormed the Dimapur Central Prison on Thursday to snatch Khan, stripping him naked and beating him to death with sticks in the streets before stringing him up to a clock tower.

"Some of these 42 arrested men were also directly involved in the lynching of the rape suspect Khan, and will face additional charges," Inspector General of Police, Wabang Jamir, told AFP from Dimapur city, after 18 were arrested on Sunday in an initial sweep.

Tensions had been rising in Dimapur ahead of the incident after Bengali-speaking Khan was arrested on 24 February for allegedly raping a 19-year-old tribal woman multiple times.

Eighteen people were arrested on Sunday over the attack in Dimapur where hundreds of riot police have been patrolling the streets in case of further trouble.

The lynching comes as India is in the midst of a raging controversy over a government order to ban the broadcast of a documentary about the December 2012 fatal gang-rape of a young student in New Delhi.

India has seen an outpouring of anger over frightening levels of violence against women since the 2012 attack, which sparked shock both within India and around the world.

But the lynching is also linked to ethnic tensions in Nagaland, whose indigenous tribal groups have for years accused growing numbers of Muslim migrants from neighbouring Assam state and Bangladesh of settling on their land and eating into resources.

The mob overpowered security at the prison on Thursday searching for Khan, whom Nagaland's government initially said was a Bangladeshi immigrant.

Jamir said the city was "slowly returning back to normal" with police lifting a curfew, but internet and mobile restrictions would remain for another 48 hours.

"Complete curfew orders have been relaxed today but some prohibitory orders still continue," Jamir said from Dimapur, around 1 660km east of New Delhi.

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