Namita Narzary had not seen her husband Lukas for over three years until her brother-in-law Don Bosco brought his body home on March 30. A resident of Oxiguri village, about 3 km from the nearest police station at Amguri, Namita was told that Lukas was killed in an “encounter” with security forces inside a jungle at Mandarguri, 5 km away.
On Wednesday, The Indian Express reported that a CRPF IG has raised several questions over the killing of Lukas Narzary and another suspected militant of the NDFB(S) faction, David Islary, in a joint operation by the Army, Assam Police, CRPF and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
In a report sent to the the CRPF headquarters in Delhi, Rajnish Rai, IG, North East Sector, stated that the encounter that led to the two deaths was staged. The report, dated April 17, also stated that the two men were picked up from a house in D-Kalling village and killed in cold blood in Simlaguri. Calling for a full-fledged investigation, Rai also alleged that weapons were planted on their bodies.
On Thursday, The Indian Express visited Oxiguri, where Namita was struggling to come to terms with her husband’s death, and the adjoining Digoldong village, where a farmer’s family said that Lukas and David were sleeping in its home when they were taken away by “soldiers” on the night of March 29.
In official records and on government signboards, D-Kalling is Digoldong, in Chirang district, about 10 km from the Bhutan border in a straight line and 250 km west of Guwahati.
“I did not know that Lukas was with some militant group. He told me that he works in Meghalaya. In fact, we first met in Shillong about 12 years ago, after which he married me. I did not even know he was here in the next village that night,” said Namita, even as her younger daughter Sansri started crying aloud. The couple has another daughter and a son.
According to security forces, Lukas, 32, and David of No 2 Aie-Dhubri village, were killed in an “encounter” at Simlaguri on March 30, following which a 5.56 mm INSAS rifle, a 7.65 mm revolver, a Chinese grenade and live ammunition were recovered from them.
But Binu Basumatary, wife of Ranjit Basumatary, a small-time farmer in Digoldong, said the two were unarmed when they were picked up from her house.
“The two arrived at our house on March 29 night, after we had already had our food. It was raining. They said they had eaten somewhere and only wanted to sleep for the night. We asked them to sleep in the house where our elder son Khwrwmdao sleeps. While Khwrwmdao slept in the first room, the two slept in the other room. Our daughter Bibiyana, who studies in that room till late, came and slept with me,” said Binu.
“About an hour or so later, there were loud knocks on our door, and even as my husband and I came out, we saw that our house was surrounded by soldiers. They had tied the hands of the two men as well as those of my son behind their backs and were dragging them away. I cried out and asked them with folded hands to spare my son, which they did, and took the other two away,” said Binu.
“I knew Lukas because he is from Oxiguri, the adjacent village. I had not met the other person before. The soldiers also broke open our door and took away my daughter’s school ID card and the PAN card of Enocent, our younger son who works in a hotel in Bengaluru,” said Binu.
“When we were sure that the Army vehicles parked across a stream had left, we ran to our neighbour Thaneswar Mushahary and narrated the incident,” said Bina.
Thaneshwar told The Indian Express that Ranjit and Bina “were trembling”.
“They told me about how two persons Ranjit knew from before had arrived, and how some soldiers came and took them away. We did not sleep that night. The next morning, news came about two persons being killed in an encounter. Later, it turned out that the two were the same who were picked up from Ranjit’s house,” said Thaneshwar.
Ranjit and his family have now shifted to the house of Binu’s brother-in-law Amiya Baglari, about 2 km away in Oxiguri. “They shifted to our house about three weeks ago. About two weeks ago, Ranjit suffered a mild stroke and has been paralysed on his left side,” said Amiya. Lying on a bed at Amiya’s home, Ranjit was writhing in pain and unable to speak properly on Thursday.
“Lukas used to come home often till three years ago, but hardly brought home any money. I have been looking after my children by working in other people’s fields and houses,” said Namita, who has never been to school and is originally from Tangla in Udalguri district.
On March 30, Namita said, she was informed that Lukas had reached Digoldong. “A little later, news came that he was killed in an encounter. When his elder brother brought his body in the evening that day, it had turned pale,” Namita said.
Two days later, she said, some soldiers broke open the door of her house, carried out a search and took a torch that she always kept under her pillow.
“Lukas was the youngest of the three of us, and had studied up to Class XI at the Don Bosco School at Bengtol, about 8 km away. We only knew he worked in Meghalaya, and Namita often complained that he had not come home for a long time,” said Don Bosco, Lukas’s elder brother.
At the village of David, who was killed along with Lukas, his younger brother Youb (28) said his father Bineswar Islary had sold three bighas of ancestral land for Rs 1.85 lakh to get the second of his six sons released from jail in February. “About two years ago, we discovered that David was getting close to the NDFB, and packed him off to Bengaluru where two of my other brothers are working as labourers. He stayed there for about a year, but was arrested within 15 days of his return last December,” said Youb.
After his release from jail, said Youb, David was at home for only three days. “He disappeared. On March 30, we got news that he was dead,” said Youb, who identified his brother’s body.
On Thursday, following The Indian Express report on IG Rai’s findings, the All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) staged protest marches in the four Bodoland districts — Kokrajhar, Chirang, Udalguri and Baska — demanding punishment for those involved.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Phanin Boro, president of the Chirang unit of ABSU, said that the CRPF IG’s report “vindicates our stand”.
“We are totally against militancy and violence. At the same time, we are also against such extra-judicial killings in the name of counter-insurgency operations. If you catch a militant, take him to court and let the judiciary decide,” said Boro.
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