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Outrage over custodial death in Chirang

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  29 Jun 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Our Bureau

Chirang/ Bongaigaon, June 28: Organizations and locals in Chirang district today demonstrated against the Indian Army following the custodial death of a person, and demanded a high level inquiry into the incident.

Forty-five year old Ratneswar Basumatary, a villager of Borgamai under Bijni police station in the district, was picked up on Friday night. Sources said Ratneswar was admitted to Bijni Health Centre in serious condition on Saturday and later referred to Lower Assam Hospital, Bongaigaon after his condition deteriorated.

The family members claimed that army officials informed them that Ratneswar was admitted at the hospital. The family members, however, refused to accompany the army officials to the hospital and demanded his safe release.

Ratneswar, however, died on Sunday morning. The family members refused to accept the body until the "guilty" army personnel are punished.

The victim's family members have lodged an FIR accusing the personnel of 7 Siklai Regiment based at Panbari of torturing Ratneswar to death.

Various organizations, including the influential All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU), Bodo Sahitya Sabha (BSS), All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS), All Bodo Women Welfare Federation (ABWWF) and locals today staged protests and gave a 12- hour ultimatum to arrest the army officials involved in the incident. They threatened to call an indefinite Chirang district bandh from June 30 if action is not taken against the guilty officers. The protestors also demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident.

Chirang Superintendent of Police Ranjan Bhuyan said the army had informed police after detaining Ratneswar Basumatary. "The army told us that he was hospitalized after he fell down and injured himself seriously," Bhuyan said.

"We have taken necessary steps as required from our side and informed the family members. The family members have filed a case against the army and we will act accordingly as required," he said.

Ratneswar's son Anjalu said that a group of personnel of the 7th Sikhlai Camp picked-up his father suspecting that he was involved in some anti-social activities.

"Since then he was in army custody. We suspect they tortured him brutally due to which his physical condition deteriorated," Anjalu said.

Army spokesman Lt Col Suneet Newton, however, denied the allegations and said, "It was learnt from reliable sources that Ratneswar was an overground worker of the NDFB(S). While he was being brought to the army camp for interrogation, he jumped from the vehicle and tried to escape. When the army men gave chase, he fell down and injured himself. He immediately complained of pain after which he was given medical treatment. Even the doctors at the hospital said that he was suffering from chronic kidney ailment."

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