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Man lynched in Assam's Biswanath district over suspicion of cow lifting; three others wounded

Biswanath: A 48-year-old man was beaten to death on suspicion of being a cow smuggler, at the Diplonga Tea Estate in Sootea constituency of Biswanath district, early Wednesday. The man has been identified as Deben Rajbongshi from Gereki of Bholaguri Tea estate.

According to claims made by locals, a group of 20-22 people attacked pig dealers Papu Nayak, Phoolchand Sahu, Deben Rajbongshi, Bijoy Nayak and Pujen Rajbongshi with sticks, iron roads and machete while they were travelling along the No. 15 line of Diplonga Tea estate, with two cows in an auto van.

 Man lynched in Assams Biswanath district over suspicion of cow lifting; three others wounded

Representational image. Reuters

Diganta Kumar Choudhury, superintendent of police, Biswanath district said, “I got a call from the officer-in-charge (OC) of Sootea police station that a group of people has attacked five men in that area after a person Shankar Pati complained that two of his cows have gone missing from the cowshed of his house. After Pati spread the news of his missing cows, the group intercepted the auto van the five people were travelling in, dragged them out of the vehicle and started attacking them.”

According to the locals, Papu Nayak managed to flee the spot while the mob continued to assault the other four, despite them pleading not to hit and saying they were not stealing.

The SP said that the OC had informed him that upon reaching the crime scene, he had spotted the auto van, two cows and the four bleeding men. While he rescued the men and took them to the hospital, the cows and the van were left behind. The police did not confirm if the cows belonged to Pati, who has filed a missing complaint with the police.

Nayak, however, told this reporter, “We were going to buy pigs from a businessman. But we were attacked on the way by a group of people near the No. 15 line of Diplonga Tea Estate. We didn’t have any cattle in our van. I managed to flee from the spot after one man kicked me and I fell down in a nearby gauge. I kept running and somehow saved my life. Later I went to the Sootea police station to inform about the incident. The police had by then left for the spot.”

The survivors were admitted to the civil hospital at Biswanath by the police. But Rajbongshi was taken to a private nursing home in the district after his condition worsened, and he eventually succumbed to his injuries in the evening. The police have informed that the other three are stable as of now.

All five persons belong to the Adivasi community. Two cases have been registered in connection with the incident in Sootea police station under case no - 126/18 and 127/18.

Mahesh Chatri, president of All Assam Tea Tribes Students' Association, has demanded a quick probe into the matter. “They were very poor people who used to earn a living by selling pig meat. They were going to buy pigs from a person called Putul and he called them in the morning hours. They were attacked on their way back. The mob did not listen to their repeated plea to not to assault them. We strongly condemn the incident and urge the police to expedite the probe.”

A video of the lynching has surfaced which seems to have been taken by one of the men present at the location. In the video, three persons are seen with torn-clothes and blood on their faces and bodies as they sit crouching on the ground. Those assaulting them keep questioning the whereabouts of Papu, ask them if they are Muslims and how is it they were going to buy a pig if they are Muslims? One of the bleeding men replies they are not Muslims and hadn't come to Biswanath to steal, but only to buy pigs.

According to the SP, the investigation is on and soon arrests will be made based on the video and eye witness accounts. Choudhury said, “As these people work in tea gardens during the day hours, it is taking time to search them and to zero on the people involved in the lynching. But soon they will be arrested.”

The author is a Guwahati-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com.

Updated Date: Aug 16, 2018 22:36:01 IST