Babul Banik, a 52 year old resident of Karatigram at Rongpur in Silchar, who is a grocer by profession, died in police custody on Friday. He was apprehended by the police at around 06:30 PM on June 18, allegedly for violating the curfew norms. It has been reported that Banik died of a cardiac arrest.
Babul Banik has a small grocery shop, located near the Mahamaya School at Karatigram in Rongpur. According to reports, at 06:30 PM on Friday, Banik had his shop partially opened. A team of police was surveying the Karatigram area at that time, when they saw Banik, allegedly selling packaged sugar to a local customer. Therefore, the police apprehended both Banik and the customer on charges of violating the curfew norms. However, Babul Banik's wife claims that he had gone to his shop in order to bring sugar for his home.
The local customer, who was arrested by the police, had reportedly paid a fine of Rs. 1000, and was thereafter released from the police station. At around 08:30 PM, the family received a call from the police station, informing that Babul Banik had died. Consequently, the locals of Karatigram came out on the road, defying the curfew norms, to exhibit their protest against the incident. The police department had claimed that soon after Babul Banik had fallen ill in police custody, he was moved to the hospital; however, it is not yet clear whether Banik was brought dead to the hospital.
The Superintendent of Police, Cachar, Vaibhav Chandrakanta Nimbalkar and the Additional Superintendent of Police, Partha Pratim Sakia, along with other officials, arrived at the Rongpur Police Station, on being reported about the incident. Banik's family now demands the post mortem of Banik's dead body to ascertain the cause of his death.
It should be mentioned here that since the onset of the "mini-lockdown", the police were nowhere to be seen on the ground, taking charges or initiating actions against the violators of the COVID norms. Meanwhile, the Health Minister of Assam, Keshab Mahanta announced on June 15, that Cachar, along with four other districts, will be kept under the strict surveillance of the Assam Government and if situation does not improve by June 21, there are chances of imposition of lockdown in the districts. Soon after the announcement, the police department of the district seems to have suddenly become hyper-active. As a matter of fact, the official facebook handle of Cachar Police, announced that a total fine of Rs. 2,70,500 was collected on Friday by the department for alleged violation of protocols. The department took action against a total of 201 alleged violators on the day.