Lafiqul Islam Ahmed, president of a minority students’ body and a critic of the state’s BJP-led government, was shot dead on August 1.
New Delhi: Civil society members in Assam have written an open letter to chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal urging him to provide long-term support to the family of well-known minority students’ leader Lafiqul Islam Ahmed, who was shot dead by unknown assailants in Kokrajhar district on August 1.
A young student leader and president of the All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU), Ahmed’s death caused a huge uproar in the state across all communities.
The letter, signed by 44 people from different walks of life, appreciated the Sonowal government’s prompt decision to constitute a special investigation team to probe the murder and to urge the central government for a CBI probe. The letter, however, also stated that the government could provide long-term support to Ahmed’s family “by securing his younger brother with a permanent employment opportunity. This would go a long way not only in showing political goodwill, but also in establishing a sense of social justice.”
The signatories pointed out that in a conflict-ridden region like BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Area Districts of the state), Ahmed’s activism touched many hearts and that his death brought together people from different communities living in the district and elsewhere. “The show of solidarity and the peaceful protest following his assassination is indeed noteworthy,” they stated.
“For the Bengal-origin Muslim community in Assam that is still struggling with socio-economic issues, such as river erosion induced displacement and wide-scale poverty, Ahmed’s death is a significant loss. Ahmed was a progressive youth leader who raised several concerns within the Bengal-origin Muslim community, such as child marriage, polygamy, dowry and domestic violence. He also highlighted the need for girls’ education, and even created a women’s wing of the ABMSU, where he served as its president till his death,” the letter said.
Noting that “Ahmed’s murder leaves a big void in minority leadership in Assam, and void in the effort of all those, who, cutting across markers of identities, were working for peace and amity in the region,” the concerned citizens urged Sonowal to also “follow up with the Centre so that the CBI can take over the case as soon as possible.”
They requested the media to respect the sense of privacy of the bereaved family and avoid “any kind of misreporting that might negatively affect the family.”