GUWAHATI: Abdul Khaleque is a mere farmer belonging to a farmers’ village – Dholpur No 2 – on the north bank of the Brahmaputra in Assam’s Darrang district.
It was not just his dream but the aspiration of fellow villagers that his “bright” teenager son, Sheikh Farid, will one day educate himself and bring fame to the nondescript hamlet.
The Class 9 boy became famous on Thursday after his life was cut short by a police bullet during an eviction drive.
He was one of the two persons killed when a mob of protestors clashed with the police at neighbouring Dholpur No 3 village, 4 km from Dholpur No 2. “He was a bright student. We all thought he would make us proud someday but the police killed him without any provocation,” Khaleque told The New Indian Express with his eyes welled up.
Farid was the youngest of four siblings. His three brothers slog in the field to support the family of six. Stricken by poverty, most families in the village prefer engaging their children in farming to sending them to schools.
Khaleque said he had no idea Farid had gone out to see the eviction drive. He had lost the ground under his feet when a villager broke the news of the teenager’s death. “We have a democratic right to stage a protest but the police fired indiscriminately,” he said as his wife was crying inconsolably.
The neighbours have kept visiting the house to stand by the family at this hour of grief.
Khaleque said a lot of locals from Dholpur No 2 village had gone to Dholpur No 3 village on Thursday, worried over an impending similar drive in their village. “The villagers have remained tense for the past few days as they fear their village could be targeted next. So, a lot of them had gone to see how things unfold there amidst the protest,” Khaleque said.
He said he would not have allowed Farid to go there if he had any idea about the child’s plan. “The government has taken the life of an innocent boy. We will not get peace in mind till justice is delivered,” he said.
Moinul Hoque, 32, was the other person who fell to a police bullet. He had lost his cool after his minor daughter was allegedly beaten up by the police. He had charged at a group of policemen with a stick but they shot him down at point-blank range. “He and his family members were vacating the house when some cops entered the house and beat up his daughter. This enraged him and he attempted to attack the personnel,” Ainuddin Ahmed, advisor to All Assam Minority Students’ Union, said.
Hoque, a farmer, was the lone breadwinner in the family of eight. He left behind his parents, wife, three children and a sister.