PTI, GUWAHATI: The prime accused in the lynching of two men in Assam was arrested from Karbi Anglong district in the early hours today, a senior police officer said.
Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia said the prime accused allegedly had an argument with the two men, following which he spread the rumour that they were child lifters, to instigate the villagers.
With today's development, the total number of people arrested in connection with the lynching of the two men and spreading hate messages and rumours following the incident in Karbi Anglong district on Friday has risen to 64, a police officer said.
Giving details of the incident, Saikia said, "The accused, Alfajoz Timung, was the only person who had interacted with Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, prior to their killing."
According to preliminary interrogation, the duo were sitting near the Kanglithangso waterfall when Timung approached them and an argument ensued after which both Das and Nath decided to leave, he told reporters.
Timung then called up the villagers and told them that there were two men in a vehicle who had kidnapped a child. He asked the villagers to intercept the car and detain the two, the DGP said.
The villagers, however, attacked the vehicle and lynched Das and Nath.
The mobile phone of Timung has been seized, and the call details and also those of the two victims are being examined, Saikia said, adding Timung had a murder case registered against him and was out on bail.
He was arrested from Belurghat area of Karbi Anglong district this morning after a massive search operation, Superintendent of Police S P Ganjala said.
Two friends - Nilotpal Das (29) and Abhijeet Nath (30) - were on Friday pulled out of their vehicle at Panjuri in Karbi Anglong district and beaten to death by a group of irate villagers, who suspected them to be child-lifters.
The DGP said that so far, 28 people have been arrested in the last four days in connection with the lynching and "although most of the suspected assailants have been arrested, investigations will continue to ensure that all involved in the incident are apprehended".
The police have also arrested 35 persons for posting hate messages and rumours on social media. Some others, mostly students, were also picked up but later released after counselling as they have assured the authorities that they will not indulge in spreading hate messages, Saikia said.
On whether prompt action by the police could have saved Das and Nath, the DGP said Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwala has been entrusted with the task to look into all aspects of the incident.
"If, according to investigations, there was any lapse by the police, no one will be spared", Saikia said, adding the ADGP will also investigate under what circumstances and when was the policeman reportedly seen recording video clips of the lynching incident.
"The video, however, has helped the police considerably in identifying the suspects but all aspects will be probed," the DGP said.
Meanwhile, the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) has decided to give Rs five lakh each to the parents of the two deceased men and also install their statues at the place where they were lynched, KAAC Chief Executive Member (CEM) Tuliram Ronghang said.
The Council, which held a meeting with media, government officials and prominent citizens at Diphu last evening, condemned the incident. Ronghang said Karbis are a part and parcel of Assam and many tribal and non-tribals live in Karbi Anglong autonomous area, forming a greater Assamese society.
The Karbi Students' Association (KSA) and Karbi Sahitya Sabha, which met here under the aegis of the Asam Sahitya Sabha in Guwahati yesterday, have condemned the lynching.