False Charge, Illegal Detention and Torture of a Boy in Assam by Army
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
Published in Twocircles.net on 22 April 2010
On13 April, 2010 about 20 armed men belonging to 11 Field Regiment camping at Labok in the jurisdiction of Lakhipur Police Station (PS) in the district of Cachar in Assam (India) abducted Kalam Uddin Choudhury alias Kala, a daily wage labourer aged about 22 years, son of Dolu Mia Choudhury of village Makhon Nagar under the Jirighat Police Station in the same district. They tortured and kept him in incommunicado detention for about 24 hours. During the raid at the dead of night, the armed forces allegedly beaten up and humiliated all the inmates of the house, vandalised household goods and forcibly taken away 2 mobile phone handsets and other valuables with them. When on 14 April, 2010 the villagers, with the help of Yasin Ali, Officer in Charge (OC) of Jirighat Police station, found him out in the said Labok camp, the army lodged a First Information Report vide Jirighat P. S. Case No. 12 of 2010 under section 120B and 384 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) accusing Kala of hatching criminal conspiracy and extortion.
By information gathered from the family members of the victim, villagers and other persons related to the incident, it becomes clear that Dolu Mia Choudhury is a respectable person in his village, although the family is very poor. He held the post of Secretary for many years in the Village Defence Party (VDP), a village level committee which is formed by, and functions under the supervision of, the local police station. His son Kala works as a daily wage labourer having some skills in masonry. In November, 2008 Niam Uddin of village Hatirhar, Lakhipur Police Station (Cachar), who constructs small buildings in Imphal, Manipur under contract, hired Kala and took him to Imphal where the later worked for about four months as was employed by his hirer. But all of a sudden Niam Uddin disappeared one day without paying Kala anything and for many days Kala could not trace him. Kala returned home in January, 2010
After returning home Kala tried working at nearby places. On 9 April, 2010 Kala suddenly saw Niam Uddin at Jiribam, a town in Manipur bordering Assam adjacent to Jirighat, and demanded his money, which according to him was Rs. 26, 000. 00 (twenty six thousand). An altercation ensued between them. According to Dolu Mia Choudhury, Niam Uddin told his son that if he would keep demanding money he would be taught a very bitter lesson which he would not be able to forget in his life.
And then..... Dolu Mia Choudhury stated that at midnight on 13 April when all were sleeping he heard someone heavily knocking at his door. The knockers were claiming to be police and demanding the door to be opened immediately, which he obeyed. They told him that they were from army and they needed to search his house. When he enquired about search warrant and asked why they came alone without being accompanied by police officers from local police station, or the president of Gaon Panchayat (elected village level local government body, village counterpart of municipality), or the secretary of the VDP, they told him to keep quiet and started beating and kicking him. They tied him with a pillar in the veranda tying his hands at his back. They also entered a handkerchief into his mouth. At the sound of scuffle and his muzzled shriek others sleeping in his house woken up and tried to rescue him. Everybody including his aged and sick wife, daughters, sons and daughters-in-law ended up being beaten, kicked and tied. And then the brave soldiers of Indian army entered the house and vandalised everything they could find. They took two mobile handsets and some other valuables.
At the hue and cry people living nearby got awaken and started to rush to the spot. But there were army personnel at various points in the village road who stopped the people and sent them back forcibly by beating and abusing them. Present VDP Secretary Abdul Hoque Choudhury and some other members of the VDP such as Ajir Uddin, Nasir Uddin, Minhaj Uddin stated that they took their identity cards and badges provided by the police and ran towards the origin of the clamour and they also were stopped, their cards and badges were snatched away and they were also subjected to heavy beatings. But in other ways that were unknown to the army they could manage to reach the spot and they witnessed the subsequent events.
The witnesses stated that when they reach the spot they saw the army personnel asking Dolu Mia to produce ‘the gun’ according to them which he illegally possessed. Dolu Mia told them that he did not have any gun at which he received another round of beatings and kicking. The army personnel again searched the house, but in vain. Then one of the personnel called someone by the name of Monir Uddin and asked him to indentify the person who they wanted to pick up. Monir Uddin showed Kala and told them he is the person. They took him away with them without telling his family members and gathered villagers any reasons for such actions. The army also took signatures of Dolu Mia in three blank papers.
A group of villagers led by the VDP Secretary Abdul Hoque Choudhury went to Jirighat police station and woke up the Officer in Charge Yasin Ali. They narrated the whole story before him. The OC made a few phone calls and then told them that he could do nothing in the night. He asked them to come the next day early morning. The police officer with a few constables along with the villagers started searching for the boy. They searched each and every army camp within the jurisdiction of Jirighat police station. But the boy was found nowhere. The OC told them that without gathering information it is no use to continue search in this way.
On 14 April the boy was indeed found in the Labok Army camp, which is under the jurisdiction of Lakhipur police station. His condition was very bad. He was losing and gaining his consciousness. The Jirighat police took him into custody and then sent him to Jirighat New Primary Health Centre. He was examined by Dr. D Das, medical officer there.
A few hours later N. K. Subeder, N. Shri Varman from 11 Field Regiment came to the police station and produced a letter bearing letter head of People’s United Liberation Front (PULF) allegedly written by Kala demanding money from someone. Kala vehemently denied it. He stated the police that the army made him to sign the paper at gun point. Other people present there from his village including Abdul Hoque Choudhury told the police that they knew Kala well and he is a very peaceful boy, who never even mildly assaulted any person. They told that they believed army is trying to frame him. Nevertheless, the police registered a case against Kala under section 120B and 384 of IPC as Jirighat P. S. Case No. 12 of 2010. He was produced before the Magistrate on 15 April and sent to the judicial custody.
Efforts also made to gather information about the person whom the raiding army personnel asked to identify the intended person. It came out that Monir Uddin of Ujan Tarapur under Lakhipur police station is a person known as “army informer” and has a reputation of framing people in exchange of a few thousand bucks. According to the local people, if any body has any enmity or grudge against anybody they can teach the intended person a lesson paying Monir Uddin a few thousand rupees. In turn Monir Uddin gives a feast to his friends in the army or maybe some money also and they will take the intended actions, claimed the local people.
Monir Uddin has also some serious criminal cases against him. In many of these cases he was accused of robbery, kidnap, murder, rape etc. A few days back he was arrested by Silchar police station but sometimes later he was also released mysteriously.
Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, Secretary General of Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) stated that there are reasons to believe that Niam Uddin (of Hatirhar) contracted Monir Uddin for a few thousand to teach Kala the lesson he promised when the later demanded his money. Monir Uddin activated his friends in the army and they done their job.
“The army for a feast or a few thousand Indian currencies acted like organized criminals flouting the Indian laws regarding search, seizure and arrest. They indulged in severe torture, incommunicado detention and other forms of gross violation of human rights guaranteed in the constitution of India and enshrined in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights of 1966 to which India is a party.”
BHRPC demands to the authorities to immediately:
1. Release the innocent boy named Kamal Uddin Choudhury alias Kala;
2. Register a First Information Report against the concerned army personnel for abduction, robbery, grievous hurt, torture, trespass, assault and battery, molestation etc;
3. Conduct prompt, objective and thorough investigation of the incident leading to prosecution of the alleged offenders;
4. Ensure a speedy, open and impartial trial; and
5. Take actions to rehabilitate the victim and his family financially, socially and psychologically with the payment of adequate reparation and other measures.
It is to be seen how the largest secular democratic country in world responds to these very minimal demands of a human rights group concerning very gross violations of human rights.