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Rights

Assam: Police Station in Nagaon Set on Fire Over Alleged Custodial Death

The Nagaon administration on Sunday demolished the homes of those who had set the Batadraba police station on fire a day earlier over the alleged custodial death of Shafiqul Islam.

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New Delhi: An incident of alleged custodial death sparked violent protests in Assam’s Nagaon on Saturday evening. An angry mob later set a police station on fire, critically injuring three police personnel.

The Nagaon administration in Assam on Sunday demolished the homes of those who had set the Batadraba police station in the district on fire a day earlier over the alleged case of custodial death.

The police said that the row erupted after the death of Shafiqul Islam, a fish seller, who was arrested in the Salanbari area after he was found to be creating a ruckus in a drunken state the previous night. NDTV reported that the police sources claimed that police from Batadraba station had allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 and a duck from Islam.

Islam’s family claimed that Islam was beaten to death by the police after he was unable to pay the bribe. Some of his family members claimed that when they went to meet him at the police station, they were told that he was unwell and had been admitted to a hospital. But his body had already been kept in a morgue by the time his family reached the hospital.

Later, the family allegedly led a mob of residents to protest at the police station. The confrontation escalated, following which the mob set the police station on fire.

Responding to the incident, Assam’s Director-General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta released a statement that said Islam was arrested after the police received a complaint that he was drunk. “He complained of sickness and was taken to two hospitals, one after the other. Unfortunately, he died,” he said.

Islam had been arrested “after receiving a complaint that he was drunk,” according to police. A medical check-up was carried out and Islam was released the next day and “handed over to his wife”. “He complained of sickness and was taken to two hospitals, one after the other, unfortunately he died,” Mahanta said.

Charred remains of the commodities at the Batadraba police station in Nagaon district on May 21, 2022. Photo: PTI

“We take the unfortunate death of Islam very seriously and have put the OC of Batadraba thana on suspension and rest of the staff closed. If there is any foul play at our end, we mean to find that and punish the guilty according to the law. No two thoughts. So don’t think this is a simple action-reaction incident. There’s much more to it,” a top policeman said hours after the police station was torched.

Mahanta assured in one of his tweets that the authorities will “not let go of any police personnel who’s found guilty…”

He, however, warned those who were involved in burning down the police station, “…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 a warning to all antisocial/criminal elements.”