Assam police on Sunday gunned down an illegal coal trade accused in a purported encounter after his alleged escape from custody, two days after a court expressed concern at such killings having become “routine” in the state.
Abdul Ahad Choudhary, 47, had been arrested on Saturday morning from Karimganj district but escaped from a hospital in neighbouring Hailakandi, where he had been taken for a check-up, after pushing away one of the police guards, officers said.
“We increased vigil at all exit points after we came to know he would be trying to escape to Karimganj on a bike. Around 1.30am (on Sunday) he was intercepted at Lakhinagar,” Hailakandi superintendent of police Gaurav Upadhyay told The Telegraph.
“He shot at the police party and was shot in retaliatory fire. The person riding the bike escaped. We are trying to ascertain his identity.”
At least 47 people have been killed in police action since the BJP-led government returned to power in Assam in May last year, prompting a sessions court in Barpeta on Friday to say Assam was becoming a “police state”.
The court suggested that cops wear body cameras and CCTVs be installed in police stations and vehicles “to give credibility to police claims of accused trying to escape… and police personnel firing and killing or injuring such accused, which has become routine phenomenon in the state”.
An illegal coal truck was seized on April 10, and “two suspects arrested on April 17 revealed his (Choudhary’s) involvement”, Upadhayay said. “We arrested him on Saturday morning from Asimganj in neighbouring Karimganj.”
After the shooting, Choudhary was declared dead on arrival at a hospital. He had been booked for forgery, criminal conspiracy and other charges.
He faced over 50 criminal cases, some of them in Meghalaya and Mizoram. He was a suspect in a coal scam case in Karimganj that is being probed by the CBI, and was an accused in the Sutarkandi land port scam in Karimganj.