Intro: Anger against rapists and inherent hatred towards the Illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Nagaland took an ugly turn, when an irate mob lynched a rape accused after dragging the non-local from the high security Dimapur Central Jail.
The incident took place on March 5, when a 5,000 strong crowd poured on the city streets and stormed into the prison to pull out Syed Sharifuddin Khan, 35 years old Bengali Muslim, from his cell and later put the rape accused to death in full public view. The irate mob paraded the under trial naked and then thrashed him to death on the broad daylight.
Representatives from Survival Nagaland, Naga People's Front (NPF), Naga Women Hoho (NWH), Nagaland Alliance for Children & Women (NACW), Citizens Forum etc condemned the incident and most of them demanded death penalty to the rapist. They also raised voices against the outsiders (non-Naga) to be driven out from Nagaland as ‘they were involved in various anti-social and criminal activities’.
The protestors termed the rape accused as an illegal migrant from Bangladesh and decided to ‘punish’ him for the crime. Unconfirmed source claimed that the mob wanted ‘to hang Khan alive’ in the clock tower junction as an ‘instant justice’ to the rape victim girl, but he succumbed to injuries on the way.
The brutal murder of the rape accused shocked the conscience of the people in general and it was debated in the political sphere of India. The issue was discussed in both the Houses of the Parliament. Earlier, reacting sharply to the lynching of Khan, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh sought a report from the Naga Government.
The Kohima based government led by TR Zeliang had already instituted a high-level probe into the incident to find out “the lapses or shortcomings on the part of any public servant in connection with the incident and the persons responsible for the violence leading to the death of the inmate”.
The Nagaland chief minister also called his Assam counterpart Tarun Gogoi assuring all necessary actions against the perpetrators who killed Khan, a resident of Assam’s Barak Valley. Various Assam based organisations demonstrated their angers against the Naga Government for its utter failure to protect the under trail inmate.
Earlier terming the lynching of Khan as ‘barbaric, heinous and inhuman’, Assam Chief Minister Gogoi commented that “no one can take law in his own hands and stern action must be taken against those involved in the heinous crime”.
“Whenever such incidents take place, where often the irate mob breaks the law, many try to argue that it happened because of the country’s slow judicial proceedings. But here in the case of Dimapur incident, the rape accused was swiftly arrested by the police and was also lodged in the prison for the trial,” said a non-Naga resident of Kohima.
Speaking to this writer from the hill city, he also admitted that the crowd lost its logic to enter the jail psychologically overpowering the security forces on duty and later killed the rape accused in a brutal manner, where many clicked mobile photographs of the blood-soaked face of the victim and even those posted in alternate media. “The rape accused was neither getting any special patronage behind bars nor was acquitted abruptly which might have irked the mob. Moreover it was not the only incident of rape reported in Nagaland.
Various eastern states of India which are adjacent to Bangladesh, face the burden of illegal migration from the poverty stricken populous country, which has over 80 per cent Muslim population. Nagaland, which has a total population of 20,00,000 is a Christian dominated tribal State. The State has a sizable Muslim families living mostly in Kohima and Dimapur. Many male illegal Bangladeshi migrants are understood to have marital relationship with the Naga girls.
Now the Nagaland’s indigenous tribal groups are accusing the growing population of Bangladeshi Muslims for their new found crisis of land and resources. Later a statement issued by Naga Students’ Federation highlighted the insecurity of Naga people in their own land. The influential outfit asserted that the Nagaland government “should have strong political will to come out with a strong legislation to effectively tackle the menace”. It also urged the Naga people not to employ IBIs in any nature of work and harbour them under any circumstances.
NJ Thakuria (The writer is Guwahati based senior journalist)