The man in a vest and lungi who was savagely attacked at Dholpur village in Assam on Thursday – shot, thrashed and stomped upon to death – has been identified at Moinul Haque, a 30-years-old father of two children and caretaker of two elderly parents who made a living – a very meagre living – growing vegetables in a patch of land that government claimed was not his and evicted him.
“They have killed my son,” cried his father, “are we Bangladeshis? Then send us away!”
Moinul Haque’s wife and mother wept inconsolably, as they huddled under a tin shelter at a makeshift relief camp for some 800 people uprooted from their homes yesterday. The two children – a boy of 7 and a 5-year-old girl, sat nearby, shellshocked. The body of their father, sent to a hospital in Sipajhar, has not been handed back by the police yet.
The police evicted villagers from four areas – Gorukhunti and Dholpur 1, 2 and 3. The gruesome incident – in which Moinul Haque was attacked by a government cameraman filming the eviction operation and the police – took place at Dholpur 3. Eviction notices were given to villagers on Wednesday night and eviction began Thursday morning.
Two masjids were pulled down, according to reports. Some men were seen sitting near a demolished masjid and offering Friday prayers in the afternoon.
No police or government officials were present at the spot at least till 1 pm.
Dholpur 3 is hard to access. One has to travel 100 km to Sipajhar, cross a canal to land at Dholpur 3 and then walk some 4 km to reach the affected village.
Moinul Haque was one of two civilians killed on Thursday when an anti-encroachment drive in Assam’s Darrang district blew up into a brutal clash between the police and people protesting eviction. Nine policemen were also injured.
The state government has ordered a probe – to be headed by a retired High Court judge – into Thursday’s violence. The cameraman who led the fatal attack has also been arrested and has been sent to 14 days’ judicial remand by a local court.
Some 800 families were evicted in the drive against encroachments at Dholpur on Monday. The state wants to repossess 4,500 bighas of government land for an agricultural project. The police said local people attacked them with stones and they had to use force.