6 months on, mystery shrouds ‘disappearance’ of Assam youth
Guwahati: Every year, a large number of youths migrate to bigger cities from their native towns and villages in search of better livelihood and stable sources of income. However, with city life engulfing them, some unfortunate ones see their dreams come crashing down.
Rathin Das, 25, a resident of Shivpur of Abhayapuri in Assam’s Bongaigaon district, landed up in Guwahati in March 2016 with the help of a fellow Abhayapuri local Ujjal Sarkar. Despite several ups and downs, Rathin was working towards making a stable livelihood until the fateful day of November 3, 2018 when the youth suddenly went ‘missing’.
Close to six months later, Rathin remains untraceable. Under the police radar are Dr Robin Saikia and his associate Nipu Ali, who are allegedly roaming free after obtaining an anticipatory bail.
The story so far
Rathin was reportedly working with Dr Saikia, a pathologist at Insight Diagnostic Centre in Rajgarh area of Guwahati. Apparently, nobody, including Rathin’s parents, knew what his exact job description was. All they knew was that Rathin had multiple roles at Saikia’s family including helping them with their household chores as well as clerical work at his office.
According to his parents, Rathin used to frequent his house in Bongaigaon whenever he was given an opportunity. The last time he visited them was during a brief vacation for Durga Puja in October last year. He was called back soon thereafter. However, he used to speak to them over phone on a regular basis. The same continued till November 3 when he went “missing” under mysterious circumstances.
It was the day when Rathin was asked to accompany Dr Saikia to a function for doctors held at Hotel Landmark on B Barooah Road in Guwahati. Around 5.30 the next morning, the doctor’s vehicle bearing registration number AS01-AJ-8824 was found at Saraighat Bridge in Guwahati.
Prima facie, it seemed like a case of suicide as the vehicle was found abandoned with the person driving it going ‘missing’. However, when EastMojo spoke to Rathin’s parents, things didn’t quite fall into place.
Turn of events
It was around 9 pm on November 3 last year when Rathin last spoke to his mother. During the call, he told her that he was at a party. Around 10 pm, Rathin’s parents saw a picture of him holding a glass of liquor which was uploaded on his Facebook page.
“I spoke to the doctor after we got the news that he had gone missing. The doctor said that he had sent him back home and had not heard from him ever since. So I asked him to call him up and find out where he was but he said that Rathin had left his phone back at the hotel. I insisted to go to Guwahati but he asked me not to as he was busy because of the paperwork at the police station,” said Rathin’s father, Jiten Das.
The troubled father soon called his daughter who lives in Biswanath and asked whether Rathin had tried to contact her. Das also mentioned that he kept calling Dr Saikia in the meantime but he refrained from answering his calls between 10 pm and 12 midnight. Following this, Das called Ujjal Sarkar who, around 3 pm the next day, connected him to the doctor’s associate, Nipu Ali, over phone.
“I asked Nipu if Rathin had consumed liquor before leaving because we saw his picture holding a glass and whether he was accompanied by Nipu to which the latter said that he had only drank a little and they had left together from the hotel. He said that Rathin had dropped him near Kamakhya Gate and returned to the hotel. After sometime, my daughter called me up and said that the vehicle was found at Sairaighat Bridge around 5.30 am. I called the doctor and said that I will be coming to Guwahati but he kept insisting that I should not,” Das added.
However, Rathin’s father, without wasting any more time, reached Guwahati around 7.30 pm and directly went to Jalukbari police station. The father insisted on filing an FIR but was not allowed to and was rather asked to leave after giving a statement. During preliminary investigation, the police took Nipu Ali into custody following which he was sent to jail under Section 356 of the IPC.
While no productive outcome could be found despite knocking on the doors of Jalukbari and Bharalumukh police stations, Das approached the director general of police and submitted an application that accused the doctor of pressuring him not to lodge any complaint. The application also read that the doctor was involved in an organ trafficking racket and has international links in this regard. According to Das, the accused killed his son to sell his organs and made up a fake story to suppress the actual facts.
Since the parents could not get any lead, they went to meet Nipu Ali at the Central Jail in Guwahati where he mentioned that Rathin had not forgotten his phone at the hotel but it was Amrit Borah, one of Rathin’s colleagues, who had forcefully taken it from him.
“Nipu said that Amrit had made Rathin drink a little too much following which they had an argument and Amrit had forcefully taken the phone from him. Hearing this, we went to Maligaon police station and filed an FIR against the doctor. But before the police could even arrest them or call them for interrogation, the doctor had attained anticipatory bail,” Das added.
It is suspected by Rathin’s father that Saikia had already received information of the FIR being filed as he saw one of the officers on duty take the FIR copy, taking pictures of it and sending it to someone.
The father also informed that Nipu’s mobile location was showing that he was in Ambari till 3 am whereas he said that he was sleeping in his room near Kamakhya Gate since 12 am onwards which led to Nipu being taken into custody.
Several versions of the same story
Meanwhile, several versions of the story have been presented about the evening when the incident took place. Along with Nipu, Amrit’s mobile phone location also showed Ambari till 1 am to which Saikia said that they had gone out in search of Rathin since he did not return. In the meantime, Dr Saikia had also filed another case of theft of his vehicle in Paltan Bazar police station around 5 am.
There has been also been multiple statements regarding Rathin’s mobile phone. While the doctor said that Rathin had left his mobile phone at the hotel during preliminary investigation, when questioned by police, Amrit said that Rathin had given the phone to him before leaving from the hotel. Nipu also mentioned the same when he was contacted by EastMojo.
Nipu’s side of the story
While investigating the story, EastMojo also got in touch with Nipu, who is currently out on bail. He expressed complete despair due to his name being involved in the case and maintained that he was in his room when the entire episode transpired.
“The doctor had asked me to help him out to host the event as there will be several doctors coming in. It was around 10:30 pm when the conference ended and after that the party had begun. Since, I could not manage transportation back to my room so the doctor asked Rathin to take his vehicle and drop me near Kamakhya Gate. When Rathin did not return, I was contacted by Amrit around 2 am and that is all I know about the evening,” Nipu said.
While there were also questions raised by Rathin’s parents that he did not know how to drive a vehicle and neither did he have a driver’s licence, Nipu clarified that the doctor had admitted him in a motor driving school in 2017. He also mentioned that after Rathin re-joined the doctor in 2017, he only visited the diagnostic centre when he asked to and was mostly involved in the doctor’s household chores.
EastMojo also tried to get in touch with the doctor but on being asked about his side of the story he mentioned, “I have already handed my written statement to the police and I have been very disturbed since November and the police are doing their job in the meantime.” The doctor asked this reporter not to be disturbed again before disconnecting the call.
Dr Robin Saikia
All was not well at workplace
There were several occasions when Rathin had complained to his parents about not being happy with his job. After working for a year at the diagnostic centre as a ward boy, Rathin had left the job and gone back home. However, he came back following repeated persuasion by the doctor but this time he was indulged more into domestic chores and rarely visited the office.
Meanwhile, the doctor had asked Das for all of Rathin’s documents including his birth certificate and voter identification card and had mentioned to Rathin about sending him to the United Kingdom. The youth’s parents had sent all the documents after his last visit.
“When Rathin was here the last time, he mentioned to his mother that he does not like working there and that they make him do dirty jobs. His mother asked, what kind of dirty jobs are you talking about, do they make you clean toilets? He replied that I will not understand. Rathin’s mother asked him to resign and come back but we could not manage enough time,” Das added.
Jiten Das, Rathin’s father
It was also informed that although Rathin never faced any scarcity of food, he was never paid a single penny for salary. However, to their utter shock, Rathin, out of distress, had once showed his mother a picture of the doctor’s wife in their bedroom which was clicked and shared by the doctor himself.
What the police have to say
The Assam police department had undergone few major changes since the case was registered. While the officer-in-charge of Jalukbari police station retired only days after the case was registered, the department has undergone some major re-shuffle leaving most of the officials oblivious of the developments in the case. However, it is suspected by most officials that Rathin may have committed suicide since the vehicle was recovered from the Saraighat bridge.
Speaking to EastMojo, Deepak Kumar, the newly transferred commissioner of police, Guwahati, said, “There are more than 25,000 cases yet to be known. As far as I know the interrogation is in the process. I am saddened for this mishap and we will definitely try our best to rectify it. The doctor including the helper were already being taken for interrogation and Dr Robin Saikia is on anticipatory bail. The car has been found at the Saraighat bridge along with Rathin's mobile phone. As per previous records, Rathin had a different kind of relation with the doctor and he also ran off several times from his nest. Due to lack of evidence, we are assuming that it might be a case of suicide as the car was found at the Saraighat bridge. Due to lack of evidence and continuous transfer of the undertaking officers, the case is unresolved.”
Top cops of the city also maintained that no concrete evidence could be found that could lead to a conclusion. However, the police have taken the case on a priority basis and investigations are on. It was also informed that all the police stations surrounding Guwahati have been notified to keep track of any unidentified body that is recovered.