On May 22, two days after fish trader Safiqul Islam allegedly died in police custody in Assam, the police said they have held his wife, Rashida Khatun, and his daughter, a Class 8 student.

“The girl has been arrested,” Nagaon Superintendent of Police Leena Doley told Scroll.in on Monday, referring to Safiqul Islam’s daughter. In total, she said, “six people have been arrested, two females and four males.”

Under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2015, children apprehended by the police should immediately “be placed under the charge of the special juvenile justice police unit or the designated child welfare police officer”.

Doley told the Indian Express that they were treating the minor as a “child in conflict with the law”.

The six people are accused of setting fire to the Batadraba police station in Nagaon district.
“In the video footage, both the wife and the daughter can be seen setting fire to the police station. The others arrested are also relatives [of the deceased],” Doley told the Express.

The police have also invoked the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act in another case filed at the Dhing police station.

The police said they were checking if the accused persons are connected to the Ansarullah Bangla Team, a banned organisation in Bangladesh.

Islam was taken into custody late on May 20. His family had alleged that the police were demanding Rs 10,000 and a duck as a bribe to release him from custody. Islam’s wife Rashida Khatun had alleged that they beat her husband to death since the family could only afford the duck.

The police, however, claimed that Islam was ill and was taken to the district hospital, where he was declared dead.

On May 21, shortly after Islam’s death, a mob had torched the Batadraba police station in the Nagaon district.

A special investigating team led by Nagaon assistant superintendent of police has been formed to look into the torching of the police station.

An inquiry into the death of Islam will be conducted by Karbi Anglong assistant superintendent of police.

Demolition of houses

On Sunday, the Nagaon administration had demolished the homes of those who had allegedly set the Batadraba Police Station on fire. The district administration had also demolished Islam’s home.

Residents said that authorities did not issue any notice and the inhabitants were stopped from entering the area during the drive.

While there are no provisions under the law for the homes of anyone accused of a crime to be demolished, this pattern has been regularly observed across Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states.

The police said the demolition drive was ordered after allegations came to light that those who attacked the police station had encroached on the land. The residents had forged land documents, they alleged.