Opposition parties in Assam on Monday decried both the bulldozing of houses of villagers allegedly involved in burning down a police station in an apparent revenge attack after the custodial death of a person in Nagoan district as well as the assault on the force’s outpost.
The ruling BJP, however, defended the administration’s actions, blaming ‘jihadis’ for the burning down of the Batadrava Police Station. The police station was set on fire on Saturday by a mob, following the custodial death of a local person, Safikul Islam, who was picked up the night earlier.
The district administration had carried out an eviction drive in Islam’s Salnabori village the next day and bulldozed houses of the deceased and several of his relatives, alleging that they were “encroachers” and staying there with “forged land documents”.
The state Congress has deputed a seven-member committee, led by its working president Rana Goswami, to visit Batadrava and take stock of the situation there. The panel, which includes Batadrava MLA Sibamoni Bora, will interact with the local people to find out the root causes of the incidents and submit its report within two days.
“It is shocking to know that many houses of local people are demolished by bulldozers,” the party said in a statement. Taking to Twitter, Congress MP Abdul Khaleque said his party never supports any attack on a police station but bulldozing houses of suspected attackers by police is a “direct violation of human rights”.
The Trinamool Congress state president, Ripun Bora, said the incident of arson at the police station is “a matter of concern” as it shows that people are “losing” faith in the rule of law.
“It shows people are losing their trust in the law, and the torching of a police station is a threat to law and order. The custodial death also indicates an utter disregard for the legal mechanism,” he said.
The former MP from the state also maintained that the “distance between public and police has widened” since the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government came to power last year.
Terming the incident of arson at the police station following the custodial death as ‘anarchism’, Assam Jatiya Parishad chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi said, “These cannot be accepted. When the respect for law diminishes, such things happen. When the chief minister openly supports encounters, these are bound to follow.”
On the subsequent eviction drive, he claimed that it reflected the “vindictive nature of the government”.
“Whenever this government doesn’t like someone or something, they get the police to take action against them; it (eviction) was a step of vengeance,” he said.
Terming the attack on the police station as “an organised terrorist act”, the ruling BJP claimed that ‘trained jihadis’ were involved in the arson. The saffron camp also welcomed the eviction drive.
BJP’s senior spokespersons Ranjiv Kumar Sarma and Subhas Dutta have claimed that “Bangladesh-based Muslim miscreants received training in PFI camps to carry out an organised attack on the Batadrava police station”.
They urged the police to “construe the attackers as perpetrators of crime against the nation” and resort to stringent action against them.
The ruling party welcomed the decision of carrying out the eviction exercise against illegal encroachers following the incident.