In another case of hysteria stemmed from rumours on social media, two men from Guwahati were lynched by unidentified people in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district on the suspicion that they were child lifters.

The incident took place on Friday night in the backdrop of a rumour on social media that a group of ‘sopadhara’ (meaning child abductor or lifter in Assamese) were on the prowl in Nagaland’s Dimapur town and some of its adjoining areas in the district. Karbi Anglong shares a border with Nagaland on the east.

Nilotpal Das (29), a sound engineer based in Mumbai and his friend Abhijeet Nath (30), a businessman, had gone to the picnic spot Kangthilangso in Karbi Anglong late Friday night to capture the sounds of nature, police said.

On their way back from the picnic spot, the duo was stopped by some villagers at Panjuri. They were pulled out of the car and mercilessly thrashed on suspicion of being child lifters, police added.

In a video of the incident, which is being widely circulated on social media, the duo can be seen pleading for their lives and trying to explain to the mob that they were Assamese but their pleas were of no use as the crowd tied them and beat them to death with sticks. They destroyed the vehicle also.

As the police reached the spot, the seriously injured duo was rushed to a hospital but died on the way.

The police have launched a massive search operation to nab the culprits on the basis of the video. No arrests have been made so far, they said.

The district administration authorities are camping in the area and holding talks with the villagers.

The bodies will be handed over to the families of the duo after conducting the post-mortem, police added.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has condoled the deaths and condemned the brutal incident. He also rushed the Additional Director General of Assam Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwala to Dokmoka.

“It is condemnable that people are being killed over rumours and superstition,” the Chief Minister said.

Sonowal has also ordered a high-level probe into the incident and the circumstances that led to the brutality.

Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition in the state Assembly, Debabrata Saikia condemned the lynching and called it yet another instance of the state government’s “utter failure” to maintain law and order.

Saikia also demanded a judicial enquiry into the incident.