What happens when a son-in-law turns out to be a former rebel used to explosives and easy money? He blows up the fine line between dowry and extortion.
A bomb packed in a schoolbag ripped through the house of Rajen Das in western Assam’s Goalpara town, 180 km west of here, on Thursday morning. The blast injured eight persons including six minors.
Acting on Das’ suspicion, police arrested his son-in-law Prem Barman in Kokrajhar town, some 120 km west of Goalpara. “We have sent a team to fetch the man wanted for attempt to kill his in-laws,” Goalpara district police chief Luis Aind told HT.
Das, a fish trader, was sure his son-in-law had tried to wipe out his family following a marital discord. “He was threatening to blow us up unless I paid him Rs 50,000 to enable him to expand his business,” he said.
Barman, who runs a small shop in Kokrajhar, had married Das’ daughter 18 months ago. “It was only after the marriage that I came to know he was a surrendered member of the militant Bengali Tiger Force and tended to be violent,” said Das, 55.
“He has been torturing my daughter to extract money from me.” Things came to a head a fortnight ago when Das went to Kokrajhar to bring home his daughter, who is pregnant. “I brought my daughter home but not before Prem beat me up and threatened to come after us,” said Das.
Police said they were certain Prem had carried out his threat. “Das had come to inform us about a mysterious bag lying on the verandah of his house, but it had exploded by the time we reached the spot,” said an officer of the Goalpara police station.
While Das was away, his neighbour Jiban Mallya tried to open the bag. The inevitable happened; Mallya was grievously injured along with his three children.
Also hurt were three children and an adult in Das’ extended family.
Prem, however, claimed he was innocent though he admitted he had threatened to bomb his in-laws’ house. “I haven’t been out of Kokrajhar for days,” he said.
Goalpara, bordering Bangladesh, has often faced problems from infiltrators and cross-border miscreants. Part of the district also borders Meghalaya and is prone to ethnic clashes such as the one between the Garo and Rabha tribal people in January this year.