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Assam: Two Alleged Cattle Smugglers in Police Custody Killed in 'Ambush by Militants'

Akbar Banjara and Salman Banjara, residents of Uttar Pradesh, were arrested by the Meerut police and handed over to the Assam police for their alleged involvement in cattle smuggling.

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New Delhi: Two cattle alleged cattle smugglers were killed and four police officers were injured in an “ambush by militants” in the Kokrajha district, the Assam police claimed on Tuesday.

A police officer told the news agency PTI that the ambush occurred at around 1:30 am, when the two alleged smugglers were being taken to the Jomduar area of the district by the police to identify alleged smuggling routes along the Sankosh river.

The two people who were killed were Akbar Banjara and Salman Banjara, who are residents of Uttar Pradesh. They were arrested by the Meerut police and handed over to the Assam police for their alleged involvement in cattle smuggling.

The officer claimed that the police vehicle carrying the duo “came under firing from militants”, following which the police officers jumped out of the car to take cover in nearby spots. He said that roads were blocked with felled trees at the site of the incident.

The police personnel, after taking cover, retaliated, following which gun fire exchanges continued between the two sides for 10-12 minutes, the officer stated.

“The two cattle alleged smugglers were hit by bullets during the militant ambush. They were declared dead on being taken to Saraibeel Primary Health Centre in another vehicle,” he stated.

Four police officers suffered injuries and were undergoing treatment at local hospitals.

One AK-47 rifle, two magazines, 35 rounds of live ammunition and 28 rounds of empty bullet shells were recovered from the site.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi cast doubts on the Assam police’s story, saying this is “rule by gun” and a violation of rule of law.

Since Himanta Biswa Sarma was made the chief minister in May last year, the Assam government has come under the spotlight for several incidents of ‘encounters’. At least 46 people have been killed and 108 injured in police firing while they were allegedly fleeing from custody or after they attacked police officers.

According to PTI, Assam police sources said that during their interrogation, Salman and Akbar had claimed that cattle from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal and Assam were being smuggled to Bangladesh via Meghalaya.

“The duo divulged that fundamentalist militant organisations based in Bangladesh were involved in this racket and the money from this trade was being used for anti-India activities. Some of the money, they said, also found its way to militant outfits of Assam and Meghalaya,” the officer added.

Drug peddler injured in separate incident

Meanwhile, in yet another incident in Karbi Anglong, an alleged drug peddler was injured in police firing when he apparently tried to escape police custody.

The accused along with another person was nabbed on Monday with 100 gm of illegal drugs in Khatkhati police station area, a local police officer said.

On the basis of information provided by one of the arrested, a team of police personnel was taking the peddler to Dimapur in neighbouring Nagaland on Monday night to apprehend a third associate when he tried to flee, the officer stated.

“The accused pushed aside the police personnel and ran off in the direction of a nearby forest. When he refused to stop, despite our warnings, we had to fire at him. He was injured in his leg,” the officer said, adding that the person was being treated at Diphu Medical College and Hospital.