A Bangladeshi national died in judicial custody in Assam on Wednesday (July 1), triggering allegations of human rights violation. The incident comes days after the custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin district that triggered uproar across the country, while eyewitnesses told The Federal that the victims were sexual tortured.
Police sources said the deceased, identified as Bokul Mia, was arrested along with 25 others when the group was travelling from Jorhat to Dhubri, bordering Bangladesh, with expired visas. They were arrested since after coming to India with tourist visas, they were working as “fishermen” in Jorhat district, thus violating visa norms, police claimed.
They were later remanded to judicial custody by a Judicial Magistrate Court in Dhubri. The group was stuck due to the lockdown enforced in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tanveer Rasul, Bangladesh’s Assistant High Commissioner posted in Guwahati.
Assam police said that Mia died in Dhubri Civil Hospital where he was admitted on June 30 with complaints of high blood pressure and stomach ache. The hospital authorities claimed that he died of heart failure.
A human rights group based in West Bengal, however, cried foul and moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) demanding a magisterial inquiry into the death.
“The incident is a clear case of custodial death and it has happened just because of the negligence of the administration,” said Kirity Roy, secretary of the Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha in a letter to the NHRC chairperson.
On May 18, Roy lodged a complaint with the NHRC, questioning the detention of the 26 Bangladeshi nationals by the Chapor police station in Dhubri district of Assam.
“All of them had valid passports and they came to India with proper visa documents for the tenure of three months. But due to COVID-19 pandemic situation, a nationwide lockdown was imposed from March 25 and they could not leave in due time,” Roy told the NHRC.
The assistant high commissioner said that efforts were on to send the body to the family members of the deceased in Bangladesh’s Kurigram. He said the post-mortem report was awaited and only after receiving the report actual cause of the death could be ascertained.
Meanwhile, Rasul also took up the matter with the Dhubri district administration for the release of 25 other detainees on “humanitarian grounds.”