Fed up with extortion demands of a local criminal, residents of Kumbha Toli in Nagri, located about 17km from Ranchi, beat him and an aide to death on Tuesday afternoon.
Thirty-two-year-old Lalu Tamba, who, according to police, had criminal antecedents, was a resident of the nearby Tumri Toli.
His associate, whose identity is yet to be established, was admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences with injuries. He died later in the evening.
Police have lodged a case against unidentified persons.
“Tamba, who used to stay at Tumri Toli in the same neighbourhood, had a criminal background. Around 20 cases of loot, theft and other crimes are pending against him in different police stations of Ranchi. According to information gathered so far, he and his associate were lynched by villagers. However, we are yet to ascertain the identity of the other person,” said in-charge of Nagri police outpost K.P. Yadav.
Villagers, who protested for an hour when police reached the spot, claimed that they had got tired of Tamba’s torment.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a local resident said Tamba had made life unbearable for them and unleashed terror in the village.
“He had been demanding money from us and threatening us for the past month. The local police were aware of his conduct, but failed to take action against him. On several occasions, the villagers tried to sort out the matter peacefully with him and had even warned him. But nothing happened and Tamba continued hassling us,” he said.
According to the resident, some of the villagers lost their cool when Tamba and another man came to collect extortion on Tuesday afternoon.
“As it is, they were fed up with his activities and were also angry that police did not arrest him. They decided to teach him a lesson out of desperation and thrashed him,” he said.
However, Yadav rubbished the allegations, claiming that police had conducted regular raids to nab Tamba after complaints of extortion were lodged against him.
Asked whether the broad daylight killing was an indication of people losing faith in policing, Ranchi superintendent of police Vipul Shukla said it was too early to arrive at a conclusion.
“We should wait till a clear picture emerges. This is not the first time that the public has acted against a criminal. Citizens have the right to private defence. It could be one such case,” Shukla said.