A Naga accomplice of a rape suspect who was lynched by a mob in Dimapur last week was lodged in the same jail as the accused but was spared by the angry crowd, sources said on Monday, following a state government report to the home ministry.
Officials said they suspected the local prison administration was involved in the incident because only 35-year-old Syed Farid Khan – accused of raping a Naga girl multiple times -- was dragged out of prison and beaten to death by a mob.
The lynching last Thursday sparked ethnic tensions between Nagaland and neighbouring Assam with the crowd alleging Khan was an illegal Bangladeshi immigrant, amid widespread condemnation for the vigilante justice. Assam authorities, however, said the next day that Khan was an Indian citizen and his family lived in the state.
The revelation of the Naga accomplice came as 43 people were arrested in connection with the case and Nagaland home minister Y Patton confirmed rape on the basis of preliminary medical documents. State police, however, have sought a forensic report.
Khan’s accomplice, Nikavi alias Ngukavi, was arrested and lodged in the same jail as him at the time of the lynching, said former Dimapur superintendent of police Meren Jamir, who was suspended after the lynching.
“The FIR by the 20-year-old Naga girl alleged she was picked up by two males, namely Nikavi alias Ngukavi and Syed Sarif Khan, and was forcibly assaulted and made to consume alcohol. She was then raped by Khan who gave her Rs 5,000 and warned her of dire consequences if the matter was reported,” said the Nagaland government report.
Patton, meanwhile, said Khan’s family was ineligible for compensation because he was a culprit and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1lakh only to the kin of Inito, who was part of the mob and killed in police firing. Chief minister TR Zeliang’s cabinet had decided to compensate both families on Friday.
“The preliminary medical reports say rape and so the question of providing ex-gratia for a culprit does not arise,” Patton told reporters in Dimapur.
Nagaland police, though, said a clearer picture would appear only after expert opinion on the medical reports arrived from the Forensic Science Laboratory in Guwahati. There is no such lab in Nagaland.
“The medical samples were sent for forensic opinion on Saturday,” Nagaland inspector general of police Wabang Lotha said but didn’t specify if the arrested included female college students, who had allegedly taken the lead in storming the jail last Thursday.The BJP is a part of the Nagaland government led by Zeliang’s Naga People’s Front that has been in power since 2003. The BJP’s politics in the Northeast – where it wants a wider footprint – revolves around the issue of Bangladeshi migrants, particularly Bengali-speaking Muslims, a large number of whom reside in neighbouring Assam.