A day after a mob broke into the Dimapur Central Jail, dragged out a rape accused and lynched him, Dimapur SP Meren Jamir said police officials were unable to use force as “hundreds of girls in school and college uniforms were in the front”.
“How could I use maximum force when there were hundreds of girls in school and college uniforms in the front of a massive mob? It was difficult. There would have been several casualties,” Jamir told The Indian Express.
Later in the day, Nagaland Home Secretary Sentiyanger Imchen said that Jamir as well as Deputy Commissioner Wezope Kenye had been placed under suspension.
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Meanwhile, Dimapur remained tense and under curfew as the funeral of a man killed in police firing was held on Friday.
“We carried out lathi charge when the mob was small. The students initially dispersed, but they came back in large numbers. Many started pelting stones at us. When they broke in, we fired in the air and used teargas shells, but they did not disperse. They went inside and took the man away,” Jamir said.
The accused, 35-year-old Syed Sharif Khan, was tied up by the waist and dragged for seven kilometres — being kicked and pelted with stones along the way. By the end, he succumbed to his injuries. Police had claimed he may have been an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant.
According to the police, Khan was accused of raping the girl, a college student, twice — first in a jungle near the Fourth-Mile area and later in a hotel. According to Jamir, CCTV footage showed the girl entering and leaving the hotel with the accused. “Why she accompanied the man even after she was allegedly raped in another place is still a mystery,” Jamir said.
“The girl filed a complaint on February 24 alleging she was raped. We arrested the man under Sections 376, 344 and 363 of the IPC, and both were made to take a medical examination,” Jamir said.
Khan and the alleged victim used to stay in the same compound behind Daroga Pathar village market complex.
“The girl had been staying in a rented house for more than four years. Khan had been staying here for about two years,” said Fakruddin, a caretaker who looks after rented houses in the compound. “I knew Khan for the past 20 years. He used to have a paan shop near the airport, then he set up a shop at Chumukedima, about 7 km away. For the past few years, he had been selling used cars procured from Assam,” Fakruddin added.
Fakruddin said he had asked Khan to vacate the room, for which used to pay Rs 3,600 per month, in January this year. “He would come home drunk, blow his car horn and hit the iron gate, which annoyed other tenants,” Fakruddin said.
Khan, who was earlier settled in Bosla village in Assam’s Karimganj district, was married to a woman from the Sema tribe from Zunheboto district in Nagaland. The alleged victim is from the same village as Khan’s wife, police said.