A 32-year-old software engineer from India's Hyderabad city was killed by a mob on suspicions that he was a child-lifter, and at least one other person with him was critically injured, police said on Sunday.
The incident took place Saturday in Karnataka's Bidar district, about 100 kilometres north-west of Hyderabad, where the man had gone for a picnic with friends, district police superintendent D Devaraju said.
The software engineer, Mohammad Azam, and four of his friends were returning to Hyderabad when they stopped at a village and one of them offered chocolates to some children, police said.
Villagers became suspicious, and soon a mob gathered. The men fled in their car, fearing trouble. However, the car hit some obstacle as it passed the next village and fell in a ditch, the NDTV news channel reported.
False messages had been spread about them on WhatsApp, which had reached residents of the other village, and soon a huge mob of people gathered and started beating them up, Devaraju said.
Local police arrived on the scene but were outnumbered by the mob. One officer and a constable were injured as they tried to stop the attack.
Azam died on the spot, while another young man was in critical condition at a hospital in Hyderabad. The other three men were also injured.
More than 30 people have been detained, Devaraju said.
There have been a string of similar incidents across India in recent months fuelled by rumours on social media, despite awareness campaigns and outreach programmes in the region.
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