Assam Protests Minority Leader's Assassination: Political Murder, Says Former CM Gogoi
GUWAHATI: Various organizations and individuals across Assam came together to seek justice for the slain minority students’ leader Lafiqul Islam Ahmed on Wednesday.
Ahmed who was the president of All BTC Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) was gunned down by two unidentified gunmen yesterday afternoon near his hometown at Kokrajhar in Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in western Assam.
His murder has raised many questions that the authorities have still to answer. Some claim it was a political murder, and others it could also be the outcome of the young leaders fearless opposition to cattle smuggling across the Indo-Bangladesh border.
Director General of Police Mukesh Sahay reached the spot on instructions from Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The CM has asked the DGP to initiate an inquiry and nab the culprits within 24 hours.
The CM also asked deputy commissioner, Kokrajhar to maintain vigil on and ensure peace and order in the district.
Police so far have detained two individuals for interrogation from Kokrajhar and Gosaigaon.
Mukesh Sahay said every angle would be investigated including the security lapse. The state government had provided a PSO but on Tuesday, the security officer was absent from duty.
“If there was a lapse in security measures, we will investigate that. We will look into all the angles including why the PSO was absent,” Sahay told reporters outside Ahmed’s residence.
Various organizations and students’ bodies have demanded arrest and punishment of the culprits. ABMSU and All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) besides individuals from civil society on Wednesday staged protests across the state seeking justice for Ahmed who was a popular voice among all the communities.
Akhil Gogoi, an influential peasants’ leader blamed the government for not providing security. “This is extremely unfortunate. It’s a conspiracy to stop the voice of the common people. We strongly condemn this and demand the culprits be booked,” said Gogoi who is the advisor of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS).
People from different walks of life on Wednesday gathered in Guwahati to stage their protest against the killing. Dinesh Baishya, author and educationist appealed to everyone to stand united and against such a barbaric act.
Lafiqul Ahmed had recently started a massive campaign against child marriage and for the uplift of women in society, especially among the minority communities.
“The Muslims are lagging far behind due to lack of education. We must do something in this regard. I feel we must educate the women to make the society progress,” Ahmed had told The Citizen during a recent conversation.
He also formed a women wing of ABMSU to enhance his mission to educate girls and women.
“Lafiqul requested me a few times to talk to young Muslim women in the BTAD area and encourage them to be educated, independent and committed to social causes. The loss of a person who believed that no community can develop leaving it's women in the dark does feel like a personal loss,” recalled Parvin Sultana, a friend of the deceased students’ leader and assistant professor at Pramathesh Barua College in Dhubri.
Atanu Bhuyan, editor in chief of Assam Talks, a local news channel said that Ahmed is a victim of the cattle-smuggling nexus which is assuming sinister dimensions in Assam.
“Lafiqul talked to me at 11.30 am today (Tuesday). He was going to collect the audio tape of aconversation between a top cop and a leader of the cow smuggling racket,” Bhuyan tweeted.
Another journalist echoed the similar view. “Lafiqul was a threat to the smugglers. He exposed several such stories of cattle smuggling by providing visuals to us. He once told me of the threat from the smugglers. I just can’t believe this. He was also a close friend of mine,” Sazadul Rana Hussain, a journalist with Pratidin Time, told The Citizen.
Thousands of cows are smuggled across the border to Bangladesh. It has been continuing for several years. Though the BSF occasionally nabs some smugglers for the record, the larger nexus has yet to be cracked. It is believed that the cattle from different parts of the country are smuggled through Dhubri to Bangladesh for an international market.
However, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Kokrajhar MP Naba Sarania suspect his to be a political murder and have asked for a CBI inquiry.
“I know him personally. He was very cooperative whenever we met. He was a voice for the community. There were threats to his life but there was no adequate security for him. Just one security personnel is not enough. There might be a political angle to it. We lost a young leader. There must be a CBI inquiry to it,” said Gogoi.
Naba Sarania, a former rebel, who now represents Kokrajhar constituency in Lok Sabha, said the government must act to nab the culprits. He also said it seemed like a political murder.
“He (Lafiqul) was a popular leader and was like my younger brother. I have no words to express my grief and sorrow,” said Sarania who visited Ahmed’s residence to pay last respect.
Kaustubh Deka, an assistant professor at Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi said that it was not yet another act of ‘minority lynching’.
“One must emphasise that this was not yet another act of ‘minority lynching’. To fall in this simplistic and generalising trap would be to distort and (even if unwittingly) to manipulate the reality about the region. It has been a complex cycle of violence in Bodoland involving contestations over identities, rights and resources often with subtle but strong references to the huge network of ‘illegal’ or ‘smuggling’ business networks,”Deka said.
He added that amidst the various claims and counter claims the only constant has been death, on all sides.
“Tall figures have been falling on all sides. It is a tragedy that has spared none. Let us mourn late Lafiqul’s death, seek answers and hope for peace and sanity to prevail on everyone’s part,” said Deka who hails from Dibrugarh of Assam.
AAMSU general secretary Ainuddin Ahmed said that if the culprits are not booked immediately, they would start a mass agitation across the state.