Assam: Wife of ‘Custodial Death’ Victim, Four Others Charged Under UAPA

The five were part of the six who had earlier been charged with arson for allegedly burning down a police station while protesting.

The Batadrava police station in Nagaon district after a section of it was set on fire. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: On Monday (May 23), the Assam Police said they had booked five people – including the wife of a man who allegedly died in police custody – under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The five were part of six people already charged with setting the Batadrava police station in Nagaon on fire while protesting against the alleged custodial death.

“In the video footage, both the wife and the daughter can be seen setting fire to the police station. The others arrested are also relatives (of the deceased),” Nagaon SP Leena Doley told the Indian Express. The daughter has been arrested under the Juvenile Justice rules, she added.

Three cases have been filed on the matter after Safikul’s death in custody, the newspaper reported: one on his unnatural death; one related to the police station being burnt; and one under UAPA because the police claim the arson accused may have “terror links”.

“We have been informed about many criminal activities of the accused persons…we suspect (they have) terror links, too, and have got in touch with the police in Barpeta and Bongaigaon districts to confirm whether any of them are linked to the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT),” Doley said, according to the Indian Express.

The ABT is a banned terrorist organisation in Bangladesh.

Safikul was arrested on Friday night after police found him allegedly inebriated. While the police claim he passed away in custody because he was unwell, Safikul’s family has alleged that police demanded Rs 10,000 and a duck as bribe to release him, and beat him up in custody. When the family reached the station on Friday with just a duck, police allegedly asked them to arrange for cash. When they returned on Saturday morning, they found that Islam was severely ill; on the way to the civil hospital, he died. They believe it was the alleged police violence that led to his death.

The Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta has claimed that Islam had been released by the time he began feeling ill.

By afternoon, an angry crowd had gathered at the police station and set a section of it ablaze.

On Sunday, the Assam administration demolished the houses of people who were allegedly involved in setting fire to the police station. The demolition took place at Salonabari of Assam’s Nagaon district. The houses of five families were destroyed.

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