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Tension continues over Dimapur lynching; SMS blockage extended

Tension continues over Dimapur lynching; SMS blockage extended

Dimapur: Simmering tension continued on Monday in Nagaland's commercial hub of Dimapur where a mob broke into a jail and lynched a rape accused on March 5. Many 'non-local' people have temporarily left the town, while SMS and MMS services continued to be restricted in a bid to control spread of rumours on the social media.

Police on Monday said the preliminary medical examination of the woman, who had filed a rape complaint against the man, Syed Farid Khan, confirmed it was rape.

Elsewhere, the Dimapur district administration withdrew curfew restrictions imposed in the town from 6 a.m. till noon.

However, the administration imposed section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure prohibiting assembly of 10 or more people.

Though media reports earlier said Khan was an illegal Bangladeshi migrant, it was later found that he hailed from Badarpur town in Assam's Karimganj district. He belonged to a family of army men. While one of his brothers died in the Kargil war, another brother is still serving in the army's Assam regiment.

The government on Monday extended for two more days the restriction of SMS and MMS services through which, the police believe, the March 5 violence was instigated.

Nagaland Police has set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the case and arrested 43 people so far for their involvement in the mob violence in which rape accused Khan was lynched.

"The process of identification of the key people in the mob is on. So far, we have arrested 43 people, including some of people who led the mob," said Nagaland's Additional Director General of Police A. Sema.

He said police were examining the video footage to identify more people.

Sema said the preliminary medical examination of the woman confirmed she had been raped.

"The medical examination report is very conclusive and confirmed it to be rape and there are signs of resistance," he said.

Though the woman had filed the rape complaint against Khan on February 24, his family members have been claiming that there was no rape and that Khan was framed.

The simmering tension in the town has led many non-local businessmen to temporarily leave for their homes in Assam.

"Many people have left Dimapur temporarily due to the tension. There is a fear psychosis," said A. Rahman, working president of the Muslim Council of Dimapur, the apex body of the religious minority in the town.

Rahman, however, said there has been no threat to anyone.

"It was a big incident but there is no threat now. However, people have left the place due to fear psychosis after such a brutal incident," he said, adding that it may take some time for the situation to return to normal.

Some people blamed it on the recent agitation in the northeast region against illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

"The locals have been agitating against illegal Bangladeshi migrants. The state and central governments have complicated the situation by not taking up steps to stop infiltration from Bangladesh. Now the locals suspect most of the Bengali-speaking Muslims to be illegal Bangladeshi migrants," said Badal Rai, a Dimapur-based trader.

Rai, who hails from Hojai in Assam, said Syed Farid Khan "fell victim to the people's anger against Bangladeshi migrants".

"There has been a massive campaign against the rape on social media and most of the posts on social media termed Khan as an 'IBI', an acronym that stands for 'illegal Bangladeshi immigrant'," he said.

Another trader said some local people had started a campaign called 'Survival Nagaland' to drive out illegal Bangladeshi migrants from the state.

Although there has been no major study to ascertain the number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Nagaland, various sections believe that over two lakh Bangladeshis are living there.

Since Nagaland is not connected either by land or water to Bangladesh, people believe that the migrants come to the state via Assam after obtaining fraudulent documents like voter identity card and driving licence from places in Assam like Karimganj, Nagaon, Golaghat and Sibsagar.

The locals also believe that the cosmopolitan nature of Dimapur makes the identification and detection of Bangladeshis a highly arduous task.

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