On Thursday, a 12-year-old boy was returning home from the local police office after collecting his Adhaar card. He had left home in the morning, happy at the prospect of receiving his first identity card. The youngest of four siblings, Farid lived 2 km from where government evictions had begun Monday. The family hadn’t been served any eviction notice.
By evening, a lifeless body laid outside the family’s house in Assam’s Darrang district, the Adhaar card peeking out of his pocket. Khalek Ali, the boy’s father said, “My son was excited about getting his Aadhaar card. I have no idea how he got killed.”
Farid was caught in the violence that broke out during a drive to evict allegedly illegal settlers near the Brahmaputra banks on Thursdays afternoon and was one of the two people who felled allegedly by the police bullets.
“When his body was brought home, there was a bullet injury on his right chest”, Ali said.
The 15-year old, Hansa Bano, whose family had not even acquired the eviction notice heard the commotion on Thursday and went to see what was happening. In the evening, she was brought home unconscious with a broken left arm.
“I went to see what was happening. Suddenly there was panic and people were fleeing. Someone hit my arm from behind and I fell unconscious. I was picked up by some locals and brought home,” said the student of Class 7.
Bano’s father, Shayed Ali, a farmer said they didn’t take her to the local hospital because they were afraid of the district administration. Instead, they wrapped the injured hand with a cloth and applied some herbs and traditional medicine.
The deaths of Farid and Mainul Haque- a 35- year old resident who was seen chasing policemen before being apparently shot and collapsing to the ground- triggered widespread condemnation on Thursday.
The visuals of the incident showed a government photographer repeatedly jumping and kicking the apparently lifeless body of Haque. The photographer, Bijay Shankar Baniya, was arrested on Thursday night.
However, the Assam eviction drive started on Monday in a remote region roughly spread over 25,595 acres – roughly five times the size of state capital Guwahati –a massive sandbar with the Brahmaputra on one side and several small distributaries crisscrossing the area. In the area, the roads are scarce and so is the electricity supply.