KOKRAJHAR: Kokrajhar has the reputation of flaring up at the slightest provocation, because of which many Assam residents dub it as the state’s most dangerous place to live in.
Even on a ‘normal day’, the proposed capital of Bodoland state shuts down by 7 pm. Nights belong to men with guns— both legal and illegal. The western Assam district has witnessed bloody ethnic clashes in 2012 and 2014 over murders of powerful individuals belonging to one of three major communities — Bodos, Bengali Muslims or Adivasis.
So, when powerful Muslim leader and All Bodo Minority Students Union (ABMSU) president Lafiqul Islam Ahmed was murdered by two motorbike-born assailants at a tile shop in Titaguri market on the day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit on August 1, Assam government rushed DGP Mukesh Sahay along with additional forces to Kokrajhar fearing eruption of ethnic clashes. However, peace has prevailed till now.
Fingers were also pointed at nexus of top administrative officials and cow smugglers operating at Bengal-Assam-Bangladesh tri-junction whom Lafiqul sought to expose. “Two persons have been arrested and four detained over Lafiqul Islam Ahmed’s murder. We are also looking at the cow smuggling angle. With help of different communities, we are confident to maintain peace in the district,” Sahay told TNIE.
ABMSU Kokrajhar district general secretary Amir Ali says Lafiqul was targeted as he sought to expose nexus between cops and cow smugglers. “We suspect that top district administration and police officials may be behind the killing as Lafiqul was covertly working on nexus of officials and cow traders at Srirampur gate at Bengal-Assam border,” he said.
Kokrajhar superintendent of police Rajen Singh stated that there is ‘deep conspiracy’ behind the killing. On the other hand, Lafiqul’s elder sister Anjuma Khatun alleged that the SP and district collector pressurised the family to bury his body before dawn on August 1.
Meanwhile, suspicions were raised at Lafiqul’s personal bodyguard Zakir Hussain who took leave three days before the murder which made Lafiqul completely unprotected during the attack. “My wife was pregnant and leave was sanctioned by Lafiqul Islam himself,” Zakir said.
Recalling the attack, Lafiqul’s driver Noor Mohammad Sheikh says: “Two men came on a Royal Enfield motorbike and pumped bullets from two pistols from close range. I could not see them as I took cover under a table,” he said.
Lafiqul’s 61-year-old father Afasuddin Ahmed fainted in the local mosque in Lafiqul’s native Salakati town on hearing the news of his son’s death from driver Noor Mohammad. Since then, both Afasuddin and his wife Labbano Begum are bed-ridden.