"There's A Design": Terror Hand Suspected In Assam Police Station Attack

Batadrava Violence: Preliminary probe into the arson at Batadrava police station in Nagaon district points to planning by an organised group, DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said

'There's A Design': Terror Hand Suspected In Assam Police Station Attack

The violence at the police station in Nagaon district left 3 policemen injured

Guwahati:

A terror group may have engineered the mob attack on a police station in Assam, allegedly over a custodial case, the state police said today.

Preliminary investigation into the arson at Batadrava police station in Nagaon district points to planning and mobilisation by an organised group, Assam police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta told the media.

"We have studied video footage of the incident of arson and found that there is a design in the attack, a preparation and it's not just a reaction to the death of an accused. There was a proper mobilisation," he said.

Mr Mahanta also referred to the busting of a module of Bangladesh-based terror group Ansar ul Islam in Barpeta district last month. "Ansar ul Islam, which is banned in Bangladesh, is a wing of the AQIS (Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent). We have information of its growing influence in Nagaon district," he said.

Elaborating on the probe into the violence, which left 3 policemen injured, he said, "In the videos, we identified known criminals, drug dealers and history sheeters. We suspect that they instigated the mob and also played a part in the arson with a motive to destroy case records."

"They could have been motivated by modules of jihadi-type groups." the state police chief added.

A mob attacked the police station on Friday and set fire to it, apparently to protest against the alleged custodial death of 39-year-old Safiqul Islam. The protesters alleged that Islam, a fish seller, was killed in custody, after he failed to pay bribe to policemen.

A total of 21 people have been taken into custody in this connection. Six of them have been arrested.

In a social media post yesterday, Mr Mahanta said Islam was brought to the police station after police received a complaint of public drinking. "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 wrote that the attack appears to have been engineered by criminals with an aim to destroy case records. "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 said.

A day after the arson, bulldozers demolished 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.

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."

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