| Bikram Surin. Telegraph picture |
Feb. 24: Five employees of a hotel were arrested today on charges of lynching a boy early on Saturday after the teenager and two of his friends allegedly tried to break into the paan shop at Rukminigaon.
Bikram went missing since he left for school from his employer, Khagen Das’s house in Rukminigaon around 8.30am on Thursday. Bikram worked as a domestic help at Das’s house.
He was lynched early on Saturday when the five men reportedly found him and two other boys trying to break into a paan shop. Suspecting them to be thieves, the men hit Bikram on the head with a rod while his two friends escaped. Some people nearby called up police. Bikram was declared dead after he was taken to a hospital. The police later found the eight-year-old boy who was with Bikram. The boy, from Bilasipara in Dhubri district, also works as a domestic in the same locality.
The whereabouts of Bikram’s third friend is still unknown.
As the incident invited sharp reactions from all quarters, the police today arrested five employees of a nearby hotel on charges of alleged involvement in the brutal incident. Lalbabu Kishore, Rajesh Deb, Nur Hussain, Rafikul Islam and Pranab Barman were produced in the court of Kamrup chief judicial magistrate, which remanded them in three days’ police custody.
“We arrested them after the child who was with Bikram identified them,” an officer of Dispur police station said.
When Khagen Das called Bikram Surin’s mother to say that her teenaged son had been lynched, all Sumi could do was scream over the phone. “You had taken my son, give him back,” she said, while crying inconsolably. Das had called on Sumi’s cellphone repeatedly all Saturday and today.
Acute poverty had forced the family to send the teenager from Barbari tea garden in Barpeta district to the businessman’s house in Rukminigaon in 2011 to work as a domestic help. Today, Sumi was not ready to accept the shocking news.
“Bikram’s mother has refused to come here and she is asking us to take him back. His father works in Kerala and Sumi is a wage earner at a tea garden. We had brought him here and admitted him to a school too, but now we do not know how to handle the situation,” Das’s wife Bimala said as the family waited for his parents to take the boy’s body back home.
New Delhi-based National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the apex child rights body, also condemned the “barbaric” incident and sought stern action against those who killed the teenager. “We will formally write to the district administration and seek a detailed report. Those involved in the incident should be punished,” member of the commission Yogesh Dube told this correspondent over phone from Delhi.
Former chairperson of Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Suchitra Kakoty, termed the incident “shocking and barbaric”. “How can people take law in their own hands and kill a child! If he had stolen something, people should have handed him over to police and, accordingly, to the juvenile justice board,” she said.
Kakoty also questioned the police’s role in taking care of the eight-year-old boy. “They should have immediately taken him to the shelter home run by Childline but instead, they kept him in the police station. This is violation of child rights. Besides, Khagen Das should have informed the police after the boy went missing,” she said.
Bikram was a Class I student of Rukminigaon Primary School. Das’s family said he had gone missing three mont-hs back but had returned later.