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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Assam: Shopkeeper arrested for violating curfew dies in police custody; independent probe announced 

Following the death of Banik, locals in Koratigram area, where Banik’s shop is located, came out to the streets alleging custodial torture.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: June 20, 2021 7:16:53 am
There is a curfew in Cachar district from 1 pm to 5 am owing to the district's Covid-19 situation. (Representational Photo)

The Cachar district administration on Saturday announced an independent probe into the incident in which a shopkeeper had died in police custody. The 51-year-old shopkeeper, Babul Banik, was picked up by the district police on Friday for keeping his shop open during curfew.

“One of our officers found that Banik was violating curfew norms so he, along with three others, were picked up and taken to the police station for further legal action,” said Cachar SP Vaibhav Nimbalkar. The area falls under Rongpur police station.

According to the police, Banik was allowed to leave after formalities, but he began complaining of chest pain.

“He was rushed to the Silchar Civil Hospital. For better treatment, the doctors referred him to Silchar Medical College and Hospital but he died on reaching,” Nimbalkar said.

Following the death of Banik, locals in Koratigram area, where Banik’s shop is located, came out to the streets alleging custodial torture.

“A group of about 70 people had gathered. They had a lot of questions but we spoke to them and made them understand,” said Nimbalkar. The situation was tense, but was brought under control, he added.

Nimbalkar also added, “The doctors at the Silchar Civil Hospital had said that Banik showed no external injuries and his vitals were fine. The three others who were picked up have also said that there was no police assault — so prima facie, there is no case of custodial torture. But we are open to a fair and impartial probe”.

Banik is survived by wife Jaba Banik and three children.

According to reports, the wife said that Banik had not opened the shop, which is located right next to their house, on Friday, but only went to get some ration.

Cachar district is under curfew from 1 pm to 5 am. All shops – apart from those selling essentials – have been directed to be shut by 12 noon.

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