The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cops goof up ‘bomber’ identity

Guwahati, May 15: Doomdooma’s cry for justice to fake encounter victim Budheswar Moran seemed to echo in the capital city today when residents of a locality laid siege to a busy road to defend blast victim Abani Das’s honour.

Abani, 18, was one of the two persons who died when a bomb strapped to a motorbike exploded in front of an apartment-cum-market complex in Athgaon yesterday. Police promptly branded him as the perpetrator of the blast, reeling off details about his alleged Ulfa connection, aliases and subversion plan.

Residents of Lutuma, where Abani used to live with his family, had a different story to tell. About 1,000 people from the locality blocked Lokhra Road in protest against the police’s allegedly baseless allegations against the youth.

“How can the police brand him a militant' I have known him and his family for long, and they have nothing to do with any militant outfit,” Sunil Dutta, one of the many agitated faces in the crowd, said.

Abani was a first-year higher secondary student at Arya Vidyapeeth College.

“The police have got it all wrong. Abani was not from Nalbari. He was born and brought up in Lutuma. His father, who passed away three or four years ago, hailed from Hajo in Kamrup district. Residents of Lutuma have seen Abani since he was a child. His family (the youth lived with his mother and sister) is very poor but they work hard to earn a living. A few days ago, Abani found employment in a shop. He had gone to Athgaon yesterday to run an errand for his employer,” Dutta said.

Jitmol Doley, superintendent of police in charge of the Special Operations Unit, told the media at the blast site yesterday that the youth who died in the incident was Raktim, alias Ranjan, from Nalbari. He said Raktim was the carrier of the powerful improvised explosive device that self-detonated within seconds of being strapped to a parked motorbike.

Dutta said it was “beyond the imagination” of anybody who knew Abani well that he could be associated with Ulfa or capable of subversive activity like planting a bomb.

Mantosh Pandey, a friend of Abani, described the youth as a “very honest boy who could never do anything illegal”.

“We used to meet and talk everyday. There was never any discussion about Ulfa,” he said.

Traffic went haywire on Lokhra Road with the protesters refusing to take Abani’s body to the crematorium till the police came out with a clarification and an apology. Senior officials of the metro administration and the police department tried in vain to pacify the crowd.

The protesters cleared the road nearly four hours after the officials assured them of a clarification.

Deputy commissioner Avinash Joshi said the administration had asked the police to “confirm” the youth’s identity. He said there was no question of instituting an inquiry without confirmation of the identity of the deceased.

Senior superintendent of police S.N. Singh maintained that “Raktim, alias Ranjan” was an Ulfa militant who underwent training in Baksa district.

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