Death of main accused in the lynching of AASU leader prompts jubilation, concern in Assam

Death of main accused in the lynching of AASU leader prompts jubilation, concern in Assam

For representation only. File photo

Guwahati, December 1

The prime accused in the lynching of AASU leader in Jorhat died after being hit by a police vehicle when trying to escape from custody in the early hours on Wednesday, which prompted jubilation by people across Jorhat city and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to say that the state will become crime-free.

The opposition on the other hand accused the police of extrajudicial killings and some to express their concern.

Neeraj Das alias ‘Kola Lora’ (black boy) was arrested on Tuesday, a day after the gruesome incident, and was to be produced before the court on Wednesday.

Jorhat superintendent of police Ankit Jain said that during interrogation the prime accused Neeraj Das alias ‘Kola Lora’ (black boy) had revealed that a big drug consignment was coming and a police team set out with him at around 2 am on Wednesday in a bid to intercept the consignment.

Das tried to escape by jumping off the police vehicle in the lonely stretch on Chinamora-Mariani road and while trying to flee, he was accidentally hit by the police vehicle which was moving at a high speed. “The driver of the vehicle then lost control of the vehicle which rammed into a wall and was damaged,” Jain told PTI.

Das was taken to the hospital, where he was declared “brought dead”. Three policemen were injured in the incident.

A total 13 people, including Das, were arrested on Monday and Tuesday in connection with the lynching of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) leader Animesh Bhuyan. Two others, including a reporter, who was accompanying Bhuyan were injured in the incident on Monday.

As the news of Das’ death spread people came out to the streets in Jorhat city, which is a major educational hub of upper Assam, and burst crackers in jubilation.

Sarma wrote on Twitter, “Assam will be free of crime and criminal—come what May” and retweeted a post by Special DGP (Law and Order) GP Singh.

The government headed by Sarma will complete its first year in May next year and the tweet is assumed to be a reference for bringing crime under control before it.

Singh had tweeted at around 2.29 am on Wednesday “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction—Newton’s Third Law” apparently referring to Das’ death after being hit by a police vehicle.

Sarma later told reporters on the sidelines of a programme at Gorukhuti in Darrang district, “To save Assam from crime and criminals, crime has to be checked. Assam Police is committed to eradicate crime from our society.”   Referring to Das’ death, he said, “Some people are saying it’s a good thing, but I am not satisfied in my heart. We have reached a point where our youths are killing each other”.

AASU general secretary Sankarjyoti Baruah said, “For the first time we are happy over a person’s death. Das had many cases against him and was a terror for Jorhat. God has delivered justice”.

“Today, Animesh’s soul and his family have attained their peace,” he said and demanded the arrest of all those involved in the lynching and exemplary punishment against them.

Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia apparently suspecting foul play in the death of Das said, “Whenever there is death of a person in custody, NHRC mandates enquiry. We hope that the enquiry is done impartially.”  On the contention by the police that Das was being taken to provide a lead on a drugs consignment, Saikia said that he had complained to Jorhat police of business in drugs in the area ten years ago but no action was taken. Das had about 90 cases, including those relating to drug offences pending against him but no action was taken.

Questioning the police action, the Congress leader said: “Perhaps the cat would have got out of the bag and hence the quick action. But of course we will have to wait for an investigation before arriving at any conclusion”.  Assam Jatiya Parishad president Lurinjyoti Gogoi demanded security and quick justice for the two injured in the lynching undergoing treatment at Jorhat Medical College and Hospital.

He visited them during the day and enquired about their health.

The sense of jubiliation among a section of the people over Das’ death has led many to ring the bell of caution.

 Sushanta Talukdar, the editor of a Guwahati-based online news magazine, in a tweet apparently referring to the circumstances of Das’ death said, “Manufacturing consent for #extrajudicial killing is a part of conscious attempt to weaken the judicial system for covering up failure of the State.”   Another senior editor Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty also questioned the manner in which Das was killed and took to the micro blogging site to air her apprehensions.

 Maintaining that “What @assampolice did is essentially taking over role of judiciary”, she wrote  “Let’s be very clear - police is to main law and order ONLY not deliver justice” and retweeted the special DGP’s post.

 Kaushik Deka, another senior scribe from Assam, tweeted: “No sympathy for a mob leader, but is it the way to compensate for poor policing and slow judicial process? Could become a Frankenstein in a blood thirsty society. Everyone demanding an encounter is no less than a potential lyncher.”

Reacting to Deka, the special DGP replied: “Without taking away from our failures, at times, we’ve to carry the load of failure of the other partner institutions of the criminal justice system”.

Bhuyan was beaten to death and two others were seriously injured by a group of people following a heated argument over an accident.

 The incident took place in the day when an old man fell down from a scooter in front of Bhuyan’s four-wheeler but some people claimed that the AASU leader had hit the two-wheeler. He and his two friends had got down from the vehicle to help the elderly person.

 The elderly man’s son Neeraj Das and some of his friends, who were nearby, rushed to the spot and started thrashing Bhuyan and his two friends, accusing them of causing the accident.

 Bhuyan was the education secretary of Brahmaputra Regional Committee of AASU’s Golaghat district unit. One of his companions was local reporter Mridusmanta Baruah and the other was Pranay Dutta, both AASU members. — PTI

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