The Gauhati High Court has registered a case based on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking an impartial probe into the alleged custodial death of a fish trader in central Assam’s Nagaon district.
The death of Safikul Islam, a 39-year-old fish trader, on May 21 led to a mob setting fire to the Batadrava police station. The local authorities retaliated by bulldozing the “illegally-built” houses of at least five people found involved in the arson.
The PIL petition was filed by lawyers Anowar Hussain Laskar and Zunaid Khalid. It recounted the police claim that that Islam was found lying on a public road in a drunken state and brought to the police station but was declared dead the next day.
“The family members of the deceased stated that police demanded ₹10,000 and a duck as bribe for his release. Accordingly, the wife of the deceased went to Batadrava police station along with a duck in the morning of May 22,” the petitioners said.
The police later told the wife that her husband had died. Although the police and the authorities made contradictory statements, it was quite clear that Islam died within 24 hours after being picked up by the police, they added.
The petitioners said Islam was a victim of an ‘illegal encounter’ by the police and sought an impartial investigation into the case
The High Court subsequently issued a notice to the State government, seeking its reply within August 17.