Anis Khan’s murder: Bengal student leader earlier told police his “life is in danger”

Anis Khan

Anis Khan (28), a student leader who was an active of student protests in Aliah University, an autonomous state government university in New Town, West Bengal was thrown off the roof of his house and killed at 1am in Amta, on February 19, Saturday.

Anis was a popular student leader and a member of Indian Secular Front (ISF), a political party formed in West Bengal in January 2021. He was a resident of Sarada South Khanpara village in Amta, Howrah district.

Salam Khan, father of the deceased, said to Maktoob that four people entered their house in police uniform at midnight. One of them had a gun with him. Three of the men went upstairs to look for Anis, while the fourth man [policeman] stood Salam at the gunpoint.

Anis Khan was sitting at his roof alone. Anis’s father says that he heard a scuffle; they pushed him [Anis] off the three-story roof and killed him. “The three of them came down and told the man in police uniform, Sir, let’s go. After that they left,” he added.

Salam is a farmer and his wife passed away six years ago. The family alleges that they reported the incident immediately to the Amta Police Station but police personnel had reached the spot only on Saturday morning.

Speaking to Maktoob on the condition of anonymity, a friend of Anis said: “Anis was vocal. Sometimes too vocal for people in power. They threatened him several times in the past. They killed my friend.”

Maktoob has accessed a copy of complaint in Bengali language made by Anis Khan to the officer incharge of Amta Thana, Howrah on 29 May 2021 against a local Trinamool Congress leader who was threatening to kill Anis for organising a blood donation camp in the village.

The translated complaint read, “I was publicly threatened by the deputy head of the gram panchayat and local Trinamool booth president that the blood donation camp could not be held; otherwise the result would be very bad.”

Anis in the complaint letter also had wrote that the TMC leaders have asked him, “Why [would] any other party than [TMC] get votes in this election?”

The letter further read, “Then, at about 7 PM that day, men stormed my house and verbally abused me, kicked my door and threatened to kill me. My family and I are in a state of great insecurity and fear that they could kill me and my family any day.”

“The way they are following me, it is not possible for me to go to the police station, so I sent this letter of complaint through post,” Anis concluded. The complaint was copied to SP (Howrah Rural), SDPO (Uluberiya SD), DM (Howrah), Janaswasthya Surokhsha O Adhikar Mancha (Uluberiya SD.. Howrah) and Chairperson, Human Rights Commission (WB) among others.

On 3 May 2021, a few days before the filing of the complaint, Anis had posted on his Facebook profile in Bengali language, “If necessary, I will embrace death, but I will not sell myself to brokers with my head bowed”. [Translated]

Speaking to Maktoob, Sajid Rehman (27), junior and friend of Anis in Aliah University, said “Anis was at the forefront of the anti-CAA protest at Park Circus Maidan in Kolkata.”

“We have been doing an indefinite sit-in demonstration on the Park Circus campus of Aliah University since 4 October 2021 against the decision to transfer the land of Aliah University to another institution. Anis bhai used to come and guide us and give suggestions how to lead the movement forward,” Sajid added.

Sajid says, “I’ve lost a brother and a friend. What we demand now is justice for Anis and punishment for his killers.”

Anis had enrolled in an integrated MBA course in 2014 and since then took part and led several protests on the campus.
In 2017, the student leader led a protest against the Vice Chancellor of the university. Anis was a part of CPIM’s student body, Students Federation of India (SFI) and later joined Indian Secular Front (ISF) in 2021.

“Anis was a dear friend and saathi [Comrade] of mine. We used to protest together and I feared for him as he was always at the forefront of things. We asked the police to look into the CCTV cameras installed on the opposite road of his house. Sukanta Kumar Paul [MLA of Trinamool Congress] from the area refused to give the password,” allged Anirban Das, a 27 year old activist and friend of Anis.

He went on to say: “When local correspondents of media channels came to cover the incident, the police told them it’s a small issue, don’t make headlines out of this.”

Das is sceptical of the police and believes that the police are not responsibly handling the case. Das along with family and neighbors of the deceased are marching to the SP Office in Paniyara Gramin to demand a thorough investigation into the killing of Anis Khan.

Following the death of Anis Khan, some 600 students of Aliah University blocked the seven-point Park Circus crossing in Kolkata on Saturday evening. The students had formed a human chain and raised slogans demanding justice for the 28 year-old Muslim activist. The students clashed with the police when their rally was stopped from moving past the barricading.

At gate number 4 of Jadavpur University, left inclined student bodies held a protest and candlelight vigil at 6 PM on 19 February demanding justice for Anis Khan.

Based on the complaint made by the deceased’s father Salam Khan, a case was registered under IPC section 302 (Punishment for Murder) at Atma Police Station.

In 2013, Students Federation of India leader and former student of Rabindra Bharati University, Sudipta Gupta, was arrested for protesting the government’s move to put on hold students union elections. He was killed in police custody.

In their statement, Indian Secular Front Chairman, MLA Muhammad Nausad Siddiqui said: “The young student leader has reportedly been given death threats several times.”

He further said that ISF will start an intense agitation in the coming days.

Communist Party of India (Marxist), Congress and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen also demanded an independent probe into the cold blood murder of Anis Khan.

Anis Khan was buried after Maghrib prayers on Saturday in his hometown.

Arbab Ali is an independent journalist based in Delhi. He tweets and posts with @arbabali_jmi