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Assam Lynching: Digital Bombs of Mob Violence

Social media rumours fan a medieval barbarity within us. This time it’s Assam.

Assam Lynching: Digital Bombs of Mob Violence
Shock Wave | Photograph by PTI
Assam Lynching: Digital Bombs of Mob Violence
outlookindia.com
2018-06-15T11:50:01+05:30

People in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district—like in most parts of the state—have grown up hearing stories about the ‘xopadhora’, the Assamese word to describe a child-lifter. ‘Xopa’ means both a gag and to gag someone and ‘dhora’ is to catch. In remote Assam, where superstition has a firm grip on the populace, the telling and re-telling of xopadhora horror tales has given birth to a ghas­tly creature in imagination—described variously as having long, braided hair and flashing eyes which hypnotise little children before he catches hold of them and devours them.

READ ALSO: Karbi Anglong Lynching: 'This Is Not The Assam I Know'

On June 8, when Nilotpal Das, a 29-year-old sound engineer, and his friend Abhijeet Nath, 30, a businessman, set out to visit a popular tourist spot in Karbi Anglong’s Dokmoka—about 180 km from state capital Guwahati—they had no idea that the area was in grip of virtually generated paranoia: messages claiming that a group of child-lifters had entered the area from Bihar had gone viral on social media and WhatsApp.

READ ALSO: Nilotpal Wanted To Promote Assam Through Music, Abhijeet Never Even Hurt An Insect, Say Friends Of Mob Lynching Victims

Even if they had known, would they have thought anything of it? It was just an online rumour after all. But as other ­examples from the last two months have shown us, hysteria has rendered the ­absurd as hard fact, bringing out...

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