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110 arrested over latest deadly lynch mob attack in India

New Delhi — Indian police have arrested 110 people and suspended two police officers in connection with a brutal lynching attack that left three people dead last week in a case apparently fueled by a rumor.

The incident happened Thursday in a village 93 miles north of Mumbai, in the Palghar district of Maharashtra state, but the police took action after videos of the lynching went viral on Sunday. 

The victims include two Hindu "godmen" and their driver. They were driving to a funeral in Gujarat state when a group of men in a village stopped their car, accused them of being child abductors, and attacked them with sticks and axes. 

The villagers had formed vigilante groups after rumors circulated that organ harvesting gangs and kidnappers were operating in the area at night, according to a report by The Indian Express

Videos posted on social media show one of the godmen bleeding from his head as he steps out of a building, being led by a police officer. As the mob begins to attack the man with sticks, the police officer appears to make little effort to save him. The attackers can then be seen dragging the man away, beating him as he falls to the ground. 

The police have said some of their officers were injured while trying to rescue the victims.  

"In the case of mob lynching, until now 110 accused have been arrested out of which nine are juvenile," the Maharashtra police said in a tweet Monday, adding that two officers had been suspended pending the investigation.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ordered the investigation and promised tough action against the perpetrators. The federal government has requested a report from the state government on the matter. 

"What can be more shameful than the way police handed over these people into the hands of a berserk mob and allowed them to take law into their hands," Devendra Fadnavis, former chief minister of the state, told Indian media. 

The incident happened despite a nationwide lockdown in India since March 25 to fight the spread of the coronavirus

Mob attacks based on rumours and fake news are common in India. There have been several attacks ignited by messages circulated on social media or mobile messaging apps.

The government and some media organizations are making efforts to put systems in place to debunk fake news and check rumors before they get out of control.

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