Assam: After mob torches police station, homes of accused demolished
Bulldozers demolished the homes of "those who were involved in setting fire to the police station," police officers said, a day after a mob of 40 people set fire to a police station in Assam's Nagaon district over an alleged custodial death case of a local resident. According to the government sources, the homes were demolished as part of a campaign to clear encroachment.
Why does this story matter?
According to NDTV, the demolition and the administration's repeated anti-encroachment arguments fit a pattern that has recently emerged in BJP-controlled regions. The BJP-controlled Delhi civic bodies recently razed the homes of accused home for being involved in violence. In Madhya Pradesh's Khargone too, similar actions were taken. Critics claim that such demolitions take place only when Muslims are involved in order to target them.
Statement of Assam Police on the issue
"There were 40 people in the mob. We have identified and arrested seven...and 21 have been picked up," Assam special DGP (law and order) GP Singh reportedly stated. "We will take strong action against the police officers connected to the alleged custodial death. But such an allegation doesn't mean you set fire to a police station. Arson cannot be allowed," he asserted.
Tweet of Congress MP on the controversy
What is custodial death case that triggered violence?
Sofikul Islam, a fish trader, was taken to the police station on Friday based on a complaint that he was "drunk," as per the police. The circumstances leading up to Islam's death on Saturday are disputed. The family claims that his wife discovered him dead at the hospital, while police say he died after she picked him up and took him to the hospital.
'Police demanded bribe from family'
Islam's family also alleged that the Batadrava police station demanded a bribe of Rs. 10,000 and a duck in exchange for his release. Consequently, Islam's wife arrived at the police station on Saturday with a duck, but it was in vain. A few hours later, around 3.30 pm, after Islam's death, a mob stormed the police station and set a portion of it ablaze.
Reaction from Assam govt
Pijush Hazarika, a state cabinet minister, reportedly stated, "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 will take extreme action."
Police suspends station in charge while issuing warning
While the station house officer (SHO) of Batadrava station has been suspended, Assam Police has stated that they will be "even tougher" on those engaged in the arson. "While we will not let go any police personnel found guilty, we will act even tougher against elements who think that they can escape the Indian justice system by burning down police stations," the police said.