Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that there might have been a ‘mistake’ in the identification of the body of a ‘dacoit’, killed in a police encounter in Udalguri district last week, as the family of his alleged associate claimed it was of their kin.
Sarma, on Tuesday, however, stood firm by the police action in the incident, claiming that it was the suspected dacoits who had first shot at the cops.
The body has been exhumed and process for due identification initiated, a top police officer said.
The Congress sought the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) saying it is a serious matter if someone is shot dead by the police on mistaken identity.
“We have given the case to CID to probe the mistaken identity angle. Usually, the deputy commissioner’s office does the inquest of a deceased. They might have done the probe hurriedly and made a mistake,” Sarma told reporters here.
One person was killed in a shootout on February 24 while two policemen suffered bullet injuries. It took place after the police, following a tip-off about an impending robbery, went to a place where a most-wanted dacoit Kenaram Basumatary and his aide were purportedly present. The other man managed to escape.
Police later claimed that the deceased was Basumatary and the body was handed over to his family after identification by the mother, following which the family members buried it as per rituals on Friday.
The confusion arose when the family of one Dimbeshwar Muchahary from the neighbouring Baksa district came to the office of the Udalguri superintendent of police on Saturday evening and claimed that the buried body was his.
The family asserted that Basumatary had asked Muchahary to accompany him to some place and they left together a few days ago. The identity and whereabouts of the second person involved in the encounter are not yet known.
The chief minister pointed out that Basumatary’s mother and brother had identified the body, which led the police to hand it to them.
Asked if the police firing was done without ascertaining the identity of the suspects, Sarma, who also holds the Home portfolio, said it was a retaliatory action.
“Whatever be the case, the police were not wrong in firing. There was a firing from a vehicle at the police party. One sub-inspector and a constable were injured. When police fired (in retaliation), they did not even know if it was Kenaram or Dimbeshwar in the vehicle,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders Debabrata Saikia and Rakibul Hussain, who visited Udalguri on Tuesday, sought the NHRC’s intervention in the matter.
In a letter to the NHRC chairman, they said the shootout has ‘raised the question of violation of human rights as well as abuse of police law in action’.
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“A suspect shot and killed by police on mistaken identity is a serious matter,” Saikia, who is the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, and his deputy Hussain said.
They demanded a proper enquiry to verify the identity of the deceased, compensation to the victim’s family and adherence by law-enforcing agencies to procedure for arrest and punishment “rather than resorting to extreme means like encounter”.
Police have maintained that Basumatary was wanted in several cases of armed robberies in Assam as well as neighbouring Meghalaya.
Muchahary alias Gobla is also a criminal who had been arrested with arms earlier, and he and Basumtary are also shown as absconders in one case.
Also Read | Assam CM orders CID inquiry into Udalguri shoot-out case
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