The Assam government on Tuesday told the Gauhati High Court that appropriate action will be taken within 15 days against police officers who demolished the homes of five persons who allegedly set a police station on fire in Nagaon district.

The High Court sought a report on the action taken in the matter and said that it expected the police to appropriately compensate those whose homes have been demolished.

On May 21, a mob torched the Batadrava police station in Nagaon, a day after a fish trader, Safikul Islam, was allegedly killed in custody. 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.

A day after the police station was burnt down, the police had demolished the homes of the five accused men. There are no provisions under the Indian law to demolish the home of anyone accused of a crime but this practice has been regularly observed in several Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states.

One of the men accused in the case of torching the police station, Ashikul Islam, had died in a road accident after he allegedly tried to escape police custody on May 30.

In November, the Gauhati High Court had pulled up the police for demolishing the homes of the five men. It had said that there was no provision under any criminal law to use excavators and bulldozers to demolish houses “in the guise of investigation”.

“Will you dig up my courtroom in the name of the investigation if you say something is under the court?” Chief Justice RM Chhaya had asked. “It seems nobody in this country is safe.”

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