After two Muslims including a minor boy were killed in open police firing at the villagers who were protesting against the forced eviction in Assam’s Sipajhar, the Assam police so far arrested three Muslims for “allegedly instigating the protest and violence.”
The arrestees are Asmat Ali Ahmed (37), a resident of Kirakara village, Chand Mahmud (47) of Dholpur 3 village, and Sarifuddin (40) from Dholpur 1 village.
Ahmed and Mahmud are local panchayat body leaders while Sarifuddin is a daily wage labourer.
Local body leaders
Chand Mahmud is the president of Sonowa village panchayat and Asmat Ali is a former president of Bojona Pathar village panchayat.
The local body leaders Ahmed and Mamud were arrested on Monday and had been booked on multiple sections under IPC, including an attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy. The IPC sections invoked are 120B, 143, 147, 148, 149, 341, 333, 353, 325, 326 and 307, according to TwoCircles.net
“They were instigators…From our investigation, we found that they instigated the protestors, asked them not to leave their homes during the eviction, among other things,” Darrang Superintendent of Police Sushanta Biswa Sarma told The Indian Express.
“They are both public representatives and also negotiators from the government’s side. They have been arrested for their work for the people,” Amser Ali, father of Ali told TwoCircles.net
Ali’s wife Anuwara Khatun said that her husband went out in the morning to bring relief material for eviction victims. “He was going to go to Guwahati, but as he was honest to trust the police, he is now under arrest,” she says.
Mahmud’s wife Nur Jahan Khatun also told the digital news platform that his husband asked the government to provide the settlement land for the affected people from the people’s side.
Arrest from hospital
Jorifuddin, Sarifuddin’s brother, has told reporters that the police arrested Sarifuddin from a hospital where he was admitted for a bullet injury that he suffered during the police firing on 23 September.
While confirming the arrest of Sarifuddin to the Indian Express, SP Sarma said: “Like the previous two arrests, even he was found to have been instigating the protesters.”
“He (Sarifuddin) was shot on his leg and was taken to the Gauhati Medical College (GMCH),” brother Jorifuddin said to the newspaper. “He had not recovered fully. We arrived at the station Thursday morning and around 2 pm, we were told that he has been arrested.”
Sarifuddin was arrested three days after the arrests of Mahmud and Ali.
According to Jorifuddin, on 23 September, Sarifuddin went to the protest site to help his in-laws’ family, who live in Dholpur 3 and were forcefully evicted.
“No Popular Front links.”
According to the investigation so far, there is nothing to establish the three arrestees’ links with the Popular Front of India (PFI), SP said to the newspaper.
On September 25, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had justified the police violence and hinted at the involvement of the Muslim organisation Popular Front of India in “instigating violence” via demonstrating against the forced eviction.
“Prior to the day of the incident, in the name of carrying food items for evicted families, PFI visited the site. So, evidence is emerging, implicating certain people, including a college lecturer. They will be brought under investigation…the government of Assam had already sent a dossier to the Centre seeking a total ban on PFI,” CM Sarma said.
No action against policemen seen in video of killing Muslim man
Asked if any action had been taken against the policemen seen in the viral video of killing a Muslim man, the SP said, “No action had been taken by the police yet.”
Meanwhile, the Assam Human Rights Commission has held that the police violence amounted to a prima facie case of human rights violation, PTI reported on Friday.
The human rights body made the observation in an order passed on Thursday based on a complaint filed by Congress MLA and Leader of Opposition in the Assam Assembly Debabrata Saikia.
The Assam Human Rights Commission has also asked the state home department to inform whether an inquiry commission has been constituted to investigate the violence. The panel has asked the home department to respond within 21 days. The panel will take a decision based on the response, PTI reported.