Dhaka: At least eight people have been murdered by lynch mobs in Bangladesh over fabricated allegations of child abduction, police said. Officials said the deaths were linked to rumours that children were being kidnapped and sacrificed in order to build the Padma Bridge, one of Bangladesh’s biggest infrastructure projects. A rumour that “human heads and blood are required to build the Padma Bridge” reportedly spread online.
“We have found that none of those killed in mob violence were child abductors,” said Mohammad Javed Patwary, the inspector general of police. He said eight people had been murdered by lynch mobs and 103 arrested over these incidents, according to The Dhaka Tribune. Officers shut down at least 60 Facebook accounts and 25 YouTube channels which spread the human sacrifice rumour, he added.
One of the victims, Taslima Begum Renu, was killed while visiting a school. The single mother had arrived at the building to enquire about enrolling her children, but a mob killed her after assuming she was a child kidnapper. “We could do nothing against the wave of people,” a teacher at the school said. At least 36 lynching attacks took place in Bangladesh in the first six months of 2019, according to Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) a Bangladesh-based human rights watchdog.
At least 175 people have been killed by lynch mobs since 2015, ASK said. “Spreading rumours is leading to unrest in the country,” said Sohel Rana, the assistant inspector general of police. The force has asked members of the public not to spread rumours and to not participate in mob justice. Patwary said that a week-long awareness campaign against spreading rumours will be conducted in the country soon.