Guwahati: Assam Director General of Police (DGP) Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta on Sunday said that the in-charge of Batadrava police station, which was burnt down on the previous day by locals over allegations of custodial death, has been suspended.

Mahanta also claimed that those involved in the burning down of the police station with criminal records in it were not grieving relatives of the deceased but were history-sheeters, and asserted that this was not a simple action-reaction incident and there is much more to it.

“We take this unfortunate death very seriously and have put the OC of Batadrava police station in Nagaon district on suspension. If there is any foul play at our end, we mean to find that and punish the guilty according to law. No two ways about it,” he said.

Narrating the incident in a long Facebook post on the DGP’s official page, Mahanta said that 39-year-old Safiqul Islam was brought to the police station at 9.30 PM on May 20 after receiving a complaint of him being in a drunken state.

“He was in fact lying on a public road before he was brought in. He was booked after a medical check-up. The next day he was released and handed over to his wife. His wife even gave him some water/food.”

“Later, he complained of sickness and he was taken to two hospitals, one after another. Unfortunately, he was declared dead,” he said.

After this, a mob had set ablaze the police station and several two-wheelers on Saturday afternoon alleging that the fish trader died due to police torture.

Speaking about the violence, Mahanta said, “What took place later that day, we all know. Some local bad elements took law into their own hands and burnt down the thana. These bad elements came in all forms — women, men, young and old. But the preparedness with which they came, the ferocious and organised attack they staged on the police force has made us think deeper.”

The DGP asserted that Assam Police does not think the attackers were grieving relatives of the deceased, but as it has identified “they were bad characters and their relatives with criminal records that were within the thana. Proof, incrementing evidence — all burnt down. So don’t think this is a simple action-reaction incident. There is much more to it.”

Mahanta assured the people of Assam that while his force will not let go of any police personnel found guilty, it will act even tougher against “elements who think that they can escape the Indian justice system by burning down police stations”.

“We will simply not allow this. Let this be first and last warning to all antisocial/criminal elements,” he added.

Nagaon Superintendent of Police Leena Doley had said on Saturday that three of those involved in the arson were arrested and a manhunt has been launched to nab the others.

The family members of the deceased fish trader from Salonabori village claimed that the police had demanded Rs 10,000 and a duck as a bribe for his release, and his wife visited the police station with a duck on Saturday morning.

When she returned with the money later, she learnt that her husband had been taken to Nagaon Civil Hospital. After reaching there, she found him dead, they claimed.

Alleging that the man died because of torture, villagers gheraoed the police station, allegedly assaulted on-duty personnel and then torched the building.

Videos of the incident showed a woman sprinkling some inflammable liquid on two-wheelers parked in front of the police station and setting them on fire. The blaze engulfed the police station soon after and fire tenders later doused it.

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