Syed Sharif Khan was dragged out of a Dimapur prison, paraded naked and then beaten and stoned and killed by a mob which believed he was an ‘Illegal Bangladeshi Immigrant’ who raped a Naga college student. However, it now turns out that not only was Khan an Indian but he hailed from a family of army men and had moved to Nagaland from Assam after marrying a Naga woman.
“We are sons of the soil. We can’t be Bangladeshis just because we are Bengali Muslims,” Nasiruddin, Khan’s brother, told the Times of India.
According to his brother Suberuddin, Khan was one of nine children and three of his brothers served in the Indian Army. One of his brothers died while in service, while two others are still serving, Suberuddin was quoted as saying in an Indian Express report.
“Our eldest brother who was in the Army died while in service, while two brothers, Syed Jamal Khan and Syed Kamal Khan, are with the Assam Regiment,” he said.
According to a Hindustan Times report, his slain brother Imanuddin had been killed in the Kargil war and local police officials told the newspaper that the Khan family were Bengali-speaking Muslims who had been living in the state for generations.
Even his father had served and retired from the Military Engineering Services for 20 years. According to his brother in the army, Khan had set up shops for two other brothers in Dimapur, where he sold second-hand cars.
Khan had been arrested on charges of raping a woman and had been remanded to judicial custody. However, an angry mob had raided the Dimapur district jail on 5 March and after taking him out paraded him naked, beat him, stoned him and dragged him a distance of 7 km which resulted in his death.
His body was brought to his native Bosla village in Badarpur of Assam’s Karimganj district on Saturday even as Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi controversially claimed in a television interview that the Nagaland government needed to prove the facts since he had received an “unofficial medical report” that there was no evidence of rape.
Khan’s family has also claimed that he was framed and the girl was known to them and had demanded some money from him, a claim that unnamed home ministry sources also corroborated to the Hindustan Times. The girl, meanwhile, told a TV channel that the accused gave her money to remain silent about the incident.
Khan’s brother, Nasiruddin, who lived with him in Dimapur has said that his brother led a happy family life and the complainant was his wife’s cousin. Nasiruddin alleged that Khan had gone with the victim and her friend to attend a party on 23 February and the police had come the next day to arrest him based on the complaint filed by the girl.
He also alleged the victim had sought money which Khan’s wife had refused to pay and blamed social media outrage over the incident for the lynching, according to the Times of India report.
The incident has sparked protests in Assam with truckers refusing to ply to Nagaland over the issue and the Assam government increasing security and telling senior police officials to provide security to people from Nagaland in the state and ensuring the safety of travellers, the Hindu reported.
The Nagaland government, that has instituted a judicial inquiry into the incident, and kept paramilitary forces on standby to instill a sense of security among non-Naga communities of the state but there has been no flag march.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Nagaland Chief Minister T R Zeliang and asked him to ensure safety and security of people and take steps to maintain law and order. He also told Zeliang that strictest action should be taken against those involved in the lynching of Khan.
Assam chief minister Gogoi had written to Singh and Zeliang seeking security measures to protect people from his state.
In his letter to Singh, he wrote, “Attacks on people of a particular community, especially to those belonging to minority, can have widespread repercussion in Assam, which has a huge population of Muslims.”
Zeliang responded to Gogoi’s letter yesterday assuring him of all possible steps to ensure safety and security of people from Assam living in Nagaland.
The Nagaland Cabinet had suspended Deputy Commissioner Wezope Kenye, SP Meren Jamir and B. Chuba Phom, Senior Superintendent of Central Jail, for “their failure to control the situation”.
While local police officials have claimed that a mob consisting of students and women raided the jail and tied their hands, doubts have also been raised over the involvement of prison staff in aiding the protesters since it turns out that all other inmates are still in jail.