The father of the two Meerut-based alleged cattle smugglers – Akbar Banjara and Salman – who were killed in an "ambush by extremists" in Assam's Kokrajhar district on Monday, 18 April, while in police custody, has alleged that his sons were "innocent" and died due to police conspiracy.
"They had no case against them here or there (Assam). They had to be taken to court. They were absolutely fine in the morning. They were killed in an encounter as they could have revealed some secrets. I had spoken to them on the phone during Sehri. They told me they were fine and asked me to take care of myself. The police only did this. It is very easy for police to make an innocent man a criminal or a criminal an innocent man. My sons were absolutely innocent," said Peeru Banjara, father of the two.
The deceased, Akbar Banjara and Salman, were arrested on 13 April by the Meerut Police. Residents of the Falawada area in Meerut, the duo had cases of cattle smuggling registered in both Meerut and Kokrajhar.
On alert, a contingent of Assam Police came down to Meerut and took them in custody after serving a warrant.
Assam Police had also announced a reward of Rs 2 lakh for Akbar's arrest. The reward money was handed over to Meerut police by their Assam counterparts, UP police had informed in a tweet on 15 April. They were produced before a magistrate in Assam's Kokrajhar and put behind bars.
Banjara further said that it was a conspiracy by the police to trap his sons and kill them, adding that they weren't doing anything illegal. The extortion case in which Meerut police had arrested them was also fictitious, he added.
Meanwhile, the bodies of Akbar and Salman had reached Falawda village on Thursday, where their funeral was held in the presence of a large crowd.
Details About the Incident
The police said that the attack happened around 1.15 am on Monday when the smugglers were being taken to the Jamduar area of the district for identification of smuggling routes along the Sankosh river.
According to the police, the vehicle carrying the duo "came under the ambush of extremists near Jamduar," following which the personnel jumped out of the car to take a position in nearby spots to fire back at the "extremists." However, the arrested accused failed to get out of the car and sustained bullet injuries.
After taking cover, the police personnel retaliated, and the firing between the two sides lasted for 10-12 minutes.
"After sensing no danger, the police party immediately evacuated the injured accused persons from the vehicle and sent them in another vehicle for treatment at Saraibil Primary Health Centre," the police said, adding that the duo was declared brought dead by the on-duty doctor.
One AK-47 rifle, two magazines, 35 rounds of live ammunition, and 28 rounds of empty bullet shells were recovered from the site.
According to the police, the duo divulged that fundamentalist militant organisations based in Bangladesh, as well as Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, were involved in this racket, and the money from this trade was being used for anti-India activities.
Some of the money, the police said, was being used for terror funding and also found its way to extremist organisations of Assam and Meghalaya.