Guwahati: A day after a mob set a police station on fire in central Assam’s Nagaon district, the authorities on Sunday demolished almost all the houses in the village from where the mob came and set Batadrava police station on fire on Saturday after the alleged custodial death of a villager. The Nagaon district administration on Sunday also ordered a judicial probe into Sofikul Islam’s death.
A mob of about 50-60 people from Salonabori village had set fire to the Batadrava police station in Dhing area on Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday morning, bulldozers reached the village, about 6 km from the police station, and demolished most of the houses of those who were involved in setting fire to the police station.
Assam special DGP (law and order) G.P. Singh, who visited the ravaged police station on Sunday, told reporters: "We have identified and arrested seven people, and 21 have been picked up. The SP of the district has been asked to set up an SIT to investigate the incident and submit the report to the government."
Asserting that strong action will also be taken into the accusations of custodial death, Mr Singh said the police was equally concerned about the incident of arson. "The allegation of custodial death doesn’t justify mob violence and setting a police station on fire," he said, adding that the video footage was being analysed to identify all those involved.
According to the police, Sofikul Islam, a fish trader from Salonabori village, was brought to the police station on Friday night on the basis of a complaint that he was "drunk".
The events that led to his death the next morning are contested. While the police claimed that he died after his wife picked him up and took him to hospital, his family alleged that she found him dead at the hospital.
According to the police statement from the office of the director-general of police, Assam, Islam was released and handed over to his wife on Saturday morning. "His wife even gave him some water/food. Later, he complained of sickness and he was taken to two hospitals, one after another. Unfortunately, he was declared dead," it said.
On the other hand, Islam’s family members claimed that the police at the Batadrava outpost demanded Rs 10,000 and a duck as a bribe for his release. The family members said that when his wife reached the police station Saturday morning, she was told that her husband had been sent to hospital. "She rushed to the hospital where she found that her husband was dead," said the fish trader’s family members.
The Assam police has suspended the officer in charge of the Batadrava police station and terminated all other support staff there. The police said in a statement: "While we will not let go any police personnel found guilty, we will act even tougher against elements who think that they can escape the Indian justice system by burning down police stations. We will simply not allow this. Let this be the first and last warning to all anti-social and criminal elements."