The man accused of inciting a mob to burn down the Batadrava Police Station in Assam’s Nagaon district died while allegedly trying to escape from the custody on Monday morning.
Ashikul Islam, the main accused person in the case, died in a road accident, the police claimed.
The mob had torched the police station on May 21, a day after a fish trader, Safikul Islam, was allegedly detained. Islam’s family had alleged that the police demanded Rs 10,000 and a duck as a bribe to release him. “We could only afford a duck, so they [police] beat him to death,” Islam’s wife had said.
The police had said that Ashikul Islam was caught on camera trying to incite the mob to set the police station on fire.
“The accused [man], Ashikul Islam, was booked by the police on Sunday, and we took him in for questioning,” Nagaon Superintendent of Police Leena Doley told The Indian Express.
The police were looking for arms that Islam had confessed to storing in his home, she claimed. A statement from the Nagaon Police said that officials have seized two pistols and ammunition along with the red t-shirt that Islam was seen wearing in the video.
The statement claimed that Islam tried to escape from a police car on the way back from the search operation and was hit by another police vehicle.
Assam has reported several cases of alleged custodial deaths since the Himanta Biswa Sarma government came to power in May last year.
So far, 49 persons have been killed and 116 injured in police firing across the state. The police often justify their actions, claiming that the accused persons tried to flee custody or attack law enforcement officers.
Islam was declared dead at the Nagaon Civil Hospital hospital on Monday, the statement said, adding that three policemen were also injured in the incident.
Besides Islam, the police have arrested 11 others for their involvement in burning down the station so far, PTI reported.
Meanwhile, the Nagaon administration on May 22 had demolished the homes of the accused persons involved in setting fire to the police station, including Safikul Islam’s home.
Residents of the Salnabari area had said the district administration along with the police razed around seven structures. The residents had said that authorities did not issue any notice and they were stopped from entering the area during the demolition drive.
While there are no provisions under Indian law to demolish the home of anyone accused of a crime, this pattern has been regularly observed across Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states.