At a time when people across Assam are celebrating the BJP's electoral victory, people in the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) area are witnessing a tense situation following an episode of mob violence. On the early morning of 30 May, around 4am, a young tribal student, Sansuma Ramchiary, was brutally tortured by a gang of locals who suspected him of stealing. The incident occurred at Harisinga in Udalguri district of Assam, where at the time of writing, the situation was very tense.
The minor boy was out on his routine morning walk. Since it started raining, he took shelter in the veranda of a shop in the market. A little later, the watchman alerted the locals about his "suspicious" presence. Immediately, they surrounded him and accused him of stealing from a grocery store and took him to a nearby field, where he was tied to a post, blindfolded and beaten until he became unconscious.
His body was slashed with blades and sharp razors. After that, the agitated mob slathered his body, including his eyes and ears with salt, lime and chilli powder.
The actions of the mob to punish Ramchiary for his mysterious "crime" are reminiscent of the brutalities meted out by members of ISIS in Syria. His body was slashed with blades and sharp razors. After that, the agitated mob slathered his body, including his eyes and ears, with salt, lime and chilli powder, said local eyewitnesses. "He was bleeding profusely.... He begged for help for hours until he lost consciousness." According to reports, the boy was blinded because of the substances that were forced into his eyes.
It is alleged that some police personnel were present at the time of the incident, but they did not intervene in any way. They did not protect the boy or take him into custody and made no effort to end the mob violence. Ramchiary was simply left to die, beaten to the extent that he will never be the same again even if he regains his senses. The ordeal continued for about three hours before he was handed over to the police in a critical condition.
It is alleged that some police personnel were present at the time of the incident, but they did not intervene in any way.
The incident happened just a few hundred metres away from Harisinga Police Station. The place is familiar to me, and I am well aware of the situation here. Communal tensions are not unheard of in the area. Previously, two Bodo youth met with a similar fate in the span of a year for unknown reasons. Sansuma Ramchiary is a Class IX student in Harisinga H.S. School, a popular school in the area. He is from Damdam area in Baksa district, but living with his brother-in-law in Towmari village (Niz Harisinga). His family doesn't enjoy economic security, because of which he is forced to navigate difficult situations.
A case under Sections 342/325/326 of the IPC and R/W 23 Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 was lodged in the Harisinga Police Station. According to the FIR filed (FIR No. 41/16) on 30 May by Praneswar Ramchiary, the crime involved Sri Ratan Das (owner of the shop), Babul Das, Tupa Das and Mukut Das -- all residents of Harisinga town. One Anjan Das has been arrested in connection with the case while the rest are still at large even after three days of the incident.
Local residents and tribal organizations have launched protests, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits. The All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) has submitted a memorandum to the Udalguri deputy commissioner, demanding immediate arrest of all the accused. They also demanded compensation and medical assistance for the victim.
The inability of the police administration to catch the culprits has created doubts about whether the family will ever get justice.
Ramchiary was first admitted to the Udalguri civil hospital but was later referred to Tezpur Medical College and Hospital, where is undergoing treatment. His condition is said to be critical. Meanwhile, the locals have voiced an indefinite economic boycott of Harisinga until the accused are brought to justice. But the question is -- will the authorities do the needful? How long should people be allowed to take the law into their own hands? The bigger question is why such an incident happened just a few hundred metres away from the local police station, and was not stopped at all? The inability of the police administration to catch the culprits has created doubts about whether the family will ever get justice.
Harisinga is a small town mostly populated by Assamese, Koch Ragbongshi, Nepalese, Rabhas and Bodos. The place falls under the Udalguri Legislative Assembly Constituency currently represented by Mr Rihon Daimary, who holds a cabinet portfolio in the newly formed BJP government at Dispur.