Molestation charges against a college teacher in Karimganj district of Assam: What is the truth?

By Mustafa A. Barbhuiya,

Curfew has been imposed for last two days in the Karimganj district of Assam after massive street protests from people of minority community over attack on a college teacher by alleged right wing Hindutva activists.

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It was reported in local Bengali daily published from Karimganj that on the early morning of October, 16, Thursday a group of Hindutva activists allegedly belonging to VHP and Bajrang Dal approached Mr. Fazlul Karim for donations of Kalipuja at his rented house at Subhash Nagar area of Karimganj town. The teacher purportedly refused to give donations and consequently the mob tried to manhandle him at that instance.

The landlord of the house had to intervene that saved Fazlul that time. A few hours later, however, another huge mob along with a girl and her father approached the Subhash Nagar house of Fazlul and beat him to death when police was called to the scene immediately.

On the spot, the girl and her father filed an FIR mentioning that the teacher tried to outrage the modesty of her while she went for private tuition to the teacher on Monday, October 13, 2014. In the meantime, the news spread across and family members of the victim arrived on the spot and took him to Karimganj Civil Hospital while doctors referred him to Silchar Medical College Hospital. As the news spread, the students of Nilambazar College, Karimganj where Mr. Fazlul Karim teaches philosophy started demonstrating blocking national highway-6. It is said that Mr. Fazlul was very popular among the students.

On the way to Silchar Medical College Hospital, once the ambulance approached Silchar City, another huge mob of hooligans stopped the ambulance and attacked the victim, his family members and the Karimganj district police escorts could not help much. While it is praiseworthy that the Cachar District Police stepped in and did the rescue and took all the injured to hospital. Family members and colleagues accompanying Mr. Fazlul Karim were seriously injured and are now admitted in hospital now. The victims included Mr. Husnul Karim (younger brother), Shalikur Rahman, Imdadul Haque and Anwar Hussain.

scanned image of headlines of local newspaper Dainik Samayik Prasanga published from Silchar describing the incidence on October 17, 2014.
Scanned image of headlines of local newspaper Dainik Samayik Prasanga published from Silchar describing the incidence on October 17, 2014.

It was very unfortunate to note that one of the leading newspaper of our country the Times of India carried a news item on this that neither told the truth nor it was as per the spirit of news coverage and reporting.

To restore law and order section 144 is imposed all over the Karimaganj district as well as the other two adjacent districts of Hailakandi and Cachar. No arrests of the Hindutva activists who attacked the teacher were made.

On the other hand on a peace making effort, current Member of Parliament from Karimganj Mr. Radheshaym Biswas, Member of Legislative Assembly from Katigorhah, Ataur Rahman Mazarbhuiya, the editor of leading local newspaper, Dainik Samayik Prasanga Taimur Raza Choudhury, social workers Shourindra Bhattacharjee, Milon Laskar, Gautam Dutta, Sanjiv Laskar, Dinendranarayn Biswash, Mujammil Ali, ex MLA Dipak Bhattacharya and others made an appeal to general public through local newspapers to maintain peace and calm.

There were rumors, communal tensions and chaos that triggered from the incidence. The situation is calm and there were no fresh violence while public demonstrations were on against mob flinching of alleged molestation charged teacher.

While condemnation of the act of molestation is going on all across regardless of caste and community, there was alternative narrative as described by staff reporter Mr. Bishwajit Das of Daily Nababarta Prasanga published from Karimganj on Friday.

He was raising some intricate question to the incidence. Was the attack on the college teacher were pre planned by hate mongers to create social non coherence? Did they exploit the girl’s case to create tension in society? Was there really any incidence of molestation? If it was, then why the girl did not report to police on October 13, Monday itself? Why did she and her father come along with a mob on Thursday that too to manhandle the guy and later when police arrived, filed an FIR? These were to be decided by the court of law and not by the alleged VHP activists.

Mr. MB Qasmi, editor of the Eastern Crescent in one of his posts said, “If the court was to decide the matter then why those goons have to take the law and order in their hands? Why some gundas/scoundrels have to attack the ambulance to kill the victim and remove the living witness?”

The further investigations would prove whether the right wing Hindutva elements exploited the case as they had done recently in case of recent violence in Muzaffarnagar and Meerut. It is worth mentioning that the Barak Valley (comprising three districts of Assam- Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi), a beautiful plane of the Barail mountain range was called by late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi as the Island of Peace in North-East India. The people of the valley from all sections of society demanded probe into the incidence so that real culprits could be brought to book.

(Dr. Mustafa Barbhuiya is a Postdoctoral-Research Scientist in Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. He is a native of Hailaknadi district of Assam and compiled the news from local Bengali newspapers published from Karimganj and Silchar to give rebuttal to the incomplete and selective news item published in Times of India of October 17, 2014.)