Bulldozers Take Down Homes Of Accused In Assam Police Station Attack

Three persons were injured in the violence at Batadrava Police Station in Nagaon district

Government sources said the homes were razed as part of a drive to remove encroachment

Guwahati:

A day after a mob set a police station in Assam's Nagaon district on fire over an alleged custodial death case, bulldozers demolished the homes of at least three people allegedly involved in the violence.

A senior police officer said the huts were demolished as part of an anti-encroachment drive.

The demolition and the administration's subsequent anti-encroachment argument fits a pattern that has emerged of late in BJP-ruled states and areas.

Last month, BJP-controlled civic bodies razed homes of people allegedly involved in communal violence in Delhi's Jahangirpuri. Homes were also demolished in Madhya Pradesh's Khargone over allegations of rioting. Critics said these demolitions targeted one community. Authorities have denied the charge and stressed that they were routine drives against encroachment.

Following the demolitions in Assam, Special DGP GP Singh said, "A demolition drive has taken place. There was an allegation that some of those who attacked the police station yesterday had encroached land. Even if they had documents, they were forged. So today, a few huts were demolished."

A total of 21 people have been taken into custody in connection with yesterday's violence in Assam that left three policemen injured.

The attack on the police station was not an "action-reaction incident" but was carried out by criminals to destroy case records, state police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said today.

Those in the mob alleged that policemen killed Safiqul Islam, a 39-year-old fish seller, after he was unable to pay a bribe.

In a social media post, Mr Mahanta said Islam was brought to the police station after police received a complaint of public drinking.

"He was in fact lying on a public road before he was brought in. He was booked after medical check up. The next day he was released and handed over to his wife. 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," Mr Mahanta wrote.

He stressed that the Assam police takes this death "very seriously" and has suspended the officer in charge of the police station. "If there is any foul play at our end, we mean to find that and punish the guilty according to law. No two ways about it," he said.

The state police chief then went on to talk about the attack on the police station. "Some local bad elements took law onto their own hands and burnt down the thana. These bad elements came in all forms women, men, young and old. But the preparedness with which they came, the ferocious & organised attack they staged on police force has made us think deeper," he said.

"We don't think these are grieving relatives of the dead, but as we have identified, they were bad characters and their relatives with criminal records- RECORDS that were there within the thana. Proof, incrementing evidences- all burnt down," the police chief wrote, adding, "So don't think this is a simple action-reaction incident. There much more to it."

He then assured the people of the state that while no police personnel found guilty will be spared, the force will crack down on elements "who think that they can escape Indian justice system by burning down Police Stations".

District police chief Leena Doley said, "We have video footage and media persons have also helped us. We are identifying the people involved in the attack on the police station and will take action. We are also investigating if there was any custodial torture (to Islam)," he said.

State Cabinet minister Pijush Hazarika said, "If there was a custodial death, we will investigate and take action but we will not tolerate a mob burning down a police station. We we will take extreme action," he said.

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