TENSIONS SOAR IN NORTH EAST AFTER MOB KILLS UNDERTRIAL
The mob watching as the rape accused was lynched; Photo credits: AP
NEW DELHI: Amid high tensions in Assam and Nagaland, curfew clamped in Dimapur and protests growing stronger against the mob lynching, the Assam government has put its administration on high alert. After remaining silent spectators to the crime and the immediate aftermath the Nagaland government has finally arrested 14 persons who were reportedly part of the mob.
Nagaland IGP Wabang Jamir said that more arrests were likely to occur soon as the authorities are looking through the images and videos of the incident. He claimed that investigations were on in full swing.
Even though the IGP has denied any conspiracy in this case, many are questioning the authenticity of the alleged rape. Clips from a CCTV camera are being circulated suggesting that the woman had accompanied the man of her own free choice and had not been raped. The murdered undertrials family says that he was brutally murdered for no crime at all.
The younger brother of the victim, Syed Suberuddin Khan angrily said “If he had done any wrong then the law would have punished him. Why did they kill him”.
On March 5, a mob of thousands broke into the Central prison in Dimapur where Khan was in judicial custody on charges of rape, dragged him forcefully out of the jail, dragged him naked through the town, hit him with stones, beat him to death and hung his body from a clock tower in the city.
Despite the presence of a least eight companies of security forces, the mob lynched him and carried out their vigilante justice on Thursday with not a murmur from the security men.
The Nagaland government’s feeble response came almost a day later after the ghastly crime. On Friday, senior officials in Dimapur were suspended — the Deputy Commissioner, Wezope Kenye, Superintendent of Police Meren Jamir and Senior Superintendent of Jail in-charge of the Central Jail, B. Chuba Phom.
A Cabinet meeting was also held whereby it was decided that others, who had incited, instigated or encouraged the mob would be arrested and prosecuted. A probe panel, headed by retired District and Sessions Judge Veprasa Nyekha was also appointed to inquire into the incident.
This mob lynching has raised numerous questions.
To begin with, loud clamorous claims were being made by the people justifying this dastardly act. These were the only voices heard initially, a sign of how communal fires are being stoked in the region by vested interests. These claims have all fallen flat. The rumour and the talk centred around the allegation that Bangladeshi immigrants like Khan had been luring native girls and raping them. proclaimed how the illegal immigrants, calling him a Bangladeshi immigrant, have been luring the native girls and raping them. The rape has still to be proved, and it is clear now that Khan was a native of Assam’s Karimganj district. His father was in the Indian Air Force and his brothers in the Army.
However, this is being challenged by some Naga groups. Joel Naga, general secretary of the Naga Council, a civil society group said "We resent the Assam government's vote bank politics. Anyone can procure documents for citizenship proof for even 50 rupees, and even manage a job here. We strongly suspect Khan to be an illegal migrant, even if he has a (documentary) proof”.
One of the victim’s brother, Jamal Uddin Khan, in an interview to NDTV pointed out that many of his family members are actually serving in the Indian Army. He further added that the complainant (the girl who filed the complaint) was in fact his brother's wife's cousin.
The sudden unavailability of the medical report is also being questioned.
Meanwhile, many rallies were organised and protests held in Assam against the Dimapur mob lynching, be it in Hatigaon in Guwahati, the 6th Mile area in Guwahati or in front of the Nagaland House.
Protesters were seen shouting slogans, burning effigies and demanding a fair and a quick inquiry.
Further, truckers imposed a “chakka bandh” on Nagaland. Several transport organisations stopped plying to Nagaland from Saturday in protest. According to an IANS report, at least 17 truckers’ bodies have jointly imposed ‘chakka’ bandh on Nagaland, while stating that the protest will continue until the victim’s family gets justice. While demanding that no trader or businessman of Assam is harassed in Nagaland, the truckers also reminded of the harassment faced by transporters in the form “illegal taxation”.
On the other hand, the Assam government is trying to ensure that people from Nagaland residing in Assam do not have to face any problems because of this incident.
The Assam government has asked the Deputy Commissioners, the Superintendents of Police and the Divisional Commissioners to provide security to people from Nagaland living in the State and to also ensure the safety of travellers between the two States.
The steps taken were listed by Rockybul Hussain , the Parliamentary Affairs Minister in the Assembly after the Opposition raised the issue.
Even though the governments of both the states have asked its people to maintain peace and not spread any rumors, the situation in both the states still remain quite tense with Dimapur at the epicentre.