The woman was travelling with her family in Thiruvannamalai, looking for their kula deivam temple, when the incident occurred.
Villagers hounded the family and began questioning them.
The villagers were reportedly enraged after seeing videos of child trafficking on WhatsApp and thought that the woman and her relatives had come to kidnap children. Suspecting them as a gang of child lifters, the elderly woman raised an alarm after which the villagers gathered around the auto and started questioning them.
The incident took place when Rukmani, who hailed from Chennai, and her relatives were on their way to a temple. Four others who were in the auto at the time were severely injured and are undergoing treatment, police told BBC Tamil's Pramila Krishnan. Police attribute the sudden rise in such mob attacks on individuals to fake news spread through WhatsApp and social media about a gang of robbers and child lifters from North India roaming in the district.
"The senior officers from Thiruvannamalai arrived at the scene nearly immediately". When they stopped to ask for directions, they gave chocolates to two children playing near the road.
'We are trying to educate people and have asked them not to believe such hoaxes and report anything suspicious to the police first'.
There are few videos which were recorded of the whole incident.
The police have identified the deceased as Rukmani, 65, from Old Pallavaram in Chennai.
Later, the injured were rushed to the government hospital at Thiruvannamalai.
"We have received the videos using which we have traced the culprits".
A 65-year-old woman lost her life because a mob "suspected" her to be a child trafficker.
Following the incident, the police secured 67 persons from the village for inquiry. There are two things which are to be noted in this case.
Taken aback by the turn of events, they sped away in the auto but the locals chased them and rained stones at the vehicle. It is pertinent to understand that nobody can take the law into their own hands. Messages which have the potential to incite violence or may cause a general sense of paranoia should not be forwarded, considering different people react differently to information.