A day after the Assam eviction drive left two dead and several injured, including policemen, the authorities are yet to release an official statement with the details of the deceased. They included a 33-year-old man, the video of whose shooting went viral, and a 12-year-old child, belonging to this village in Sipajhar.
Darrang SP, Sushanta Biswa Sarma, confirmed the identity of the two deceased to The Indian Express Friday evening. When asked about how the 12-year-old died, he said he could not comment. “All this will come out in the inquiry,” he said.
A small, nondescript patch of earth marked by a bundle of twigs and a crumpled piece of white cloth has been put up by fellow villagers of Dholpur 3 to mark the spot where Moinul Hoque went down to bullets. In the video, he can be seen being beaten by policemen as he lies motionless on the ground, with a cameraman hired by the district administration, who was later arrested, stomping on him.
“Every time I think of the video, I tear up… To hit a man when he is already dead takes a special kind of hatred,” says Saddam Hussain, 21, gathered with some others at the spot.
Moinul’s family, huddled under a makeshift shelter put together with two tin sheets, a few kilometres away, says they haven’t seen the video, nor have they seen his body so far.
Apart from his wife and three children (ages 5, 9 and 13), Moinul and his parents shared the home pulled down in the eviction drive. Asked about the video that went viral and led to outrage, they say police haven’t told them anything.
Patting his sobbing wife Maimona on the back to console her, Moinul’s father Maqbool Ali says they don’t know what happened to the body. “Some people recognised him and brought word to us, so I rushed. But then I heard the sound of bullets and came back.”
According to the family, even as their home was being dismantled, Moinul heard that some settlement had been made with the authorities. “He went to find out more… the next thing we heard was that he was dead,” says Maimona.
“Moinul was a labourer, and the only earning member of our family. My husband is old… Now where will we earn?” she adds.
The family could save only a few things to carry to the shelter: some blankets, a folder of plastic documents and a few packets of moori.
The family of Shakh Farid, 12, a Class 7 student, says he left home on Thursday afternoon to go the post-office to get his Aadhaar card. The Aadhaar eventually helped locals identify the child, and he returned home dead on a horse cart.
Where Farid lived, across the Brahmaputra tributary that cuts across Dholpur 3, things were calm on Thursday afternoon. The residents had not been served notices, nor had anyone come with JCBs.
Around late afternoon, Farid’s parents heard that their son was dead. “I don’t know what happened, how he died… We are at a loss for words,” says Khaleque Ali, Farid’s father. He says he did not believe it at first, until someone showed him a photo of his son, bleeding.