Vandalism by Soldiers in Assam Causing Grievous Hurts and Miscarriage
In another atrocious incident in Assam soldiers of the Indian army illegally raided several houses in a village, indiscriminately beaten up many people including bed-ridden aged persons, expectant mother causing miscarriage, children and disabled persons causing grievous injuries to them in the district of Hailakandi on 23 May, 2010. They molested young girls and attempted to rape them. They also reportedly robbed a family of all their cash and other valuables. There are strong fears among the villagers that the incident may be repeated and worse. Extrajudicial killings by state agents are common in this part of India, and impunity remains a severe problem.
BHRPC received information that at about 3.30 am on 23 May, 2010 a group of 16/17 soldiers belonging to the artillery 11 field regiment from their base at Arunachal, Silchar knocked at the door of Mr Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya (better known to the local people as Samoi Panchayat), former president of Mohanpur Gaon Panchayat (GP, elected village level local government body, village counterpart of municipality) and husband of the present president, aged about 42, of village Mohanpur under the jurisdiction of Algapur police station in the district of Hailakandi in Assam. Mohanpur is a village situated at a distance of about 15 kilometres to the northward from Hailakandi town.
Having received information a team from BHRPC visited the village and talked with victims, their relatives, doctors treating them and other villagers and collected evidence from them. BHRPC also talked with police officers including the officer in charge of Algapur police station. The information received reveal that the soldiers were in uniform and their faces were covered with black clothes. They were not accompanied by a police officer or any other representative of the civil administration.
When the present GP president Mrs Hawatun Nesa, wife of Nurul Hoque Barbhuiya, aged about 30 years, opened the door the soldiers entered the house and asked for Samoi Panchayat, her husband. She told them that he did not return home last night from the house of a relative in another village where he went the day before. They started searching for him in all the rooms and asked the inmates to get up from bed. They wrung the throat of 82 year old bed-ridden father of Samoi Panchayat Mr Mashur Ali Barbhuiya because he could not immediately drag his body from the bed, which normally he hardly can do without help. They also beat up 65 year old mother of Samoi Panchayat Mrs. Fulerun Nesa accusing her of hiding her son. The soldiers then started breaking and destroying household goods such as furniture including chairs, tables, beds, drawers, wardrobes etc. and utensils.
Mrs Hawatun Nesa Barbhuiya stated that when in the morning at approximately 7.30 am people from the locality tried to see what is going on the soldiers opened fired. They fired in the air three times at which the whole village got terrified. She was not allowed to feed her five children and ailing elders till the soldiers left her house at about 2.30 pm in the evening. When she tried they abused her and threatened her by pointing gun at her ear and they forced her to serve them tea and snakes several times.
Her daughters Farhat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya aged about 9, Rahat Parvin Kawsar Barbhuiya aged 7, and sons Fuzail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged about 6, Suhail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged about 5 and Mikail Ahmed Barbhuiya aged 3 were badly traumatised. BHRPC members observed that the children developed some syndrome of trauma such as they could not sleep well in the night due to several interruptions by nightmares, they even experience hallucinations that armed men are trying to kidnap them in waking hours, they shudder and break down into weeping even at indirect mentions of the incidents.
In the mean time, some of the soldiers went to the adjacent house belonging to Mr Moinul Hoque Barbhuiya and purportedly searched for Samoi Panchayat. Mrs Rejwana Parvin Barbhuiya aged about 24, the older daughter of Moinul Hoque who is married and came for a few days to her father’s house, stated that two soldiers seriously misbehaved with her younger sisters namely Sabina Yasmin Barbhuiay aged about 14, a student of class VIII, and Shahnaj Yasmin Barbhuiya aged about 17 and studying in class XI. The soldiers repeatedly proposed them for sex and elopement in front of all family members and other soldiers. They grabbed their hands and engaged in scuffling with them. They also told the girls that they are soldiers with big guns and they can do anything with them. The soldiers threatened that if they would not comply they would be abducted and raped. They took the photos of the girls in their mobile sets. Rejwana told that she managed to protect the girls somehow from the worst. But they also got traumatised.
Mrs Hawatun Nesa also stated that the soldiers took away items of apparel, cosmetics, utensils and jewellery etc. bought to be given as wedding gift to Shahnaj at her marriage fixed to be solemnised on 26 May, 2010 worth approximately Rs. 70, 000.00 (seventy thousand) and Rs. 20, 000.00 (twenty thousand) cash. She also stated that the soldiers took signatures of Rejwana and herself in a paper written something on it which they did not allow her to read and they used her official stamp in the paper. They did it at gun point. The soldiers took away some official documents and papers belonging to the GP office. They also took away two mobile phones with SIMs with the numbers +919854621923 and +919435582945 used by Mr. Nazim Uddin, brother of Hawatun Nesa, and Hawatun Nesa respectively. However, the mobile used by her brother was returned to Hawatun Nesa on 25 May, 2010. She filed a complaint to the officer in charge (OC) of Algapur Police Station (PS) but police did not register a First Information Report (FIR).
Some other soldiers were also on rampage at the same time in other parts of the village. At about 5 am they raided the house of Mr. Mujammil Ali Barbhuiya, aged about 35, son of late Namor Ali Barbhuiya of Mohanpur part VI, half a kilometre away from the house of Samoi Panchayat. Mujammil Ali lives by farming his lands and at that time he was preparing to go to his farming field for work. Soldiers stopped him and asked whether he knows the whereabouts of Samoi Panchayat. But at his expression of ignorance they started beating him with the butts of gun and bamboo sticks. When he fell to the ground they kicked him incessantly. His clothes were torn into pieces. When his wife Mrs Rushna Begum Barbhuiya tried to rescue him they also beat her up.
They left severely injured Mujammil Ali when they saw another old man Mr. Abdul Jalil Laskar, aged about 65, in the street, who was going to the nearby mosque to participate in the morning prayer. They grabbed him and without much ado started administering severe blows of gun butts and bamboo sticks on the fragile body of the old man. When people tried to intervene they were also beaten up. Mrs. Latiful Begum Barbhuiya, a woman aged 35, Sharmina Begum, a girl aged 12 and a mentally retarded boy Imran Hussain aged about 14 were also badly beaten up. An expectant mother of about 9 months of gestation Mrs. Suretun Nesa (aged about 30, wife of Altaf Hussain Barbhuiya) was not spared. The soldiers kicked her in the abdomen and as a result she suffered miscarriage on 25 May, 2010 at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, Silchar.
Another group of soldiers at about 6 am went to a nearby house belonging to Amit Das (known also as Sona Das, aged about 35, son of late Umesh Das). They also asked him about Samoi Pachayat and when he told them that he did not know where he is, they started beating him. He sustained injuries on his legs and is under treatment in the Community Health Centre, Mohanpur. It is also reported that soldiers even tried to prevent the wounded and injured from going to hospital.
The villagers are as much terror struck as surprised by the incidents. They are at a loss to explain the incidents. As there is no complaint against Samoi Panchayat with the police or any other authorities. He is a peace loving public spirited person. According to the persons BHRPC team spoke with, Samoi Panchayat is a very respectable person in the village. People love and trust him. He was elected as the GP president for two consecutive terms and when in the last election the seat fell under the quota for women his wife got elected with a huge margin. Some villagers requesting anonymity told that they saw political conspiracy behind the incidents. Neither Samoi Panchayat nor his wife is a member of a political party. They are independent politicians. They also don’t divide funds for rural development schemes that are implemented by the Panchayat among politicians and officials as is the practice in many other GPs. These villagers think that some of the politicians, most probably, belonging to ruling congress party might want to teach Samoi Panchayat a lesson and for this purpose they are using the army.
There are fears among the villagers for the safety of Samoi Panchayat and two girl children Sabina and Shahnaj. BHRPC is also very concerned for their safety and physical and psychological integrity of all victims and other villagers.
It is obvious that the actions of the soldiers don’t come within the rules of any civilised society. They not only violated human rights of the villagers but also violated the law of the land and committed serious crimes of house trespass, robbery, grievous hurt, causing miscarriage, attempted rape, molestation, assault, criminal intimidation and so on with intent to terrorise the people for political purpose like members of a terrorist group.
Report prepared by
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
On 26 May, 2010-05-26
At Guwahati, Assam