Two men beat an elderly woman with a pipe on the scorching Nagaur-Bikaner national highway in Rajasthan and revealed that they had mistaken the woman as a ‘baal-katni’ – those who cut hair. The duo, Prakash, and his nephew Shrawan, told the Sunday Express that they were moved by a WhatsApp viral photo, where someone had shaved off the head of one Purva Ram’s wife in Kantilasar village, which is not so far from their locality. Prakash defended himself by stating that “Darr mein vichar banae nahi banta, apne aap ban jata hai (you lose your mind when you are afraid, and you do not realize what you are doing),”. The assaulted elderly woman in the viral video is claimed to have been homeless.
Whether the photo showing the shaved head, claiming to be from a nearby village is authentic or not, or even the certainty of the existence of either Purva Ram or the wife has not been verified. What is certain is that the residents of Kalanata ki Dhani including Prakash were terrified that their village could be the next target.
The head constable at the Balaji police station, where the 2 accused are held, Ramprakash confirmed that this is how local rumors spread. The shock came across when it was noticed that the whole village believed in the rumor too. Another constable Bajrang added to the tale by saying that “People here are waiting for rains now. Until the monsoon arrives, they have nothing to do. So they add their bit to rumors and pass them on.”. As one more local added his part to the report, he said that the rumor got intensified over the last couple of weeks when some more photos surfaced on the local social media circles.
Another Constable Harchand, who also lodged the FIR and arrested the duo said that the parts of rumors were that the sorcerers operate in groups. He said that during the attack, someone asked the woman if there are any other accompanying her, and perhaps being intellectually challenged she nodded. This intensified the panic and the children spread the words ahead.
Prakash said that they wanted her to speak but she was not speaking at all. Shrawan said that his conscience also told him that she was not right. The video also showed them beating her rigorously and asking her to spell out her religion: “Bol Allah…Jai Shri Ram…Jai Hanuman”. Subhash, the owner of the small general store said that moved by the actions of these two vigilantes, people around them started cheering, which can also be easily spotted in the video.
Shrawan confronted to police that they did not know about her being intellectually disabled, and they want to apologize her if they get a chance to meet her again. The duo was booked under IPC Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).