Tension prevailed in Assam’s Lakhimpur district on Friday, after a 23-year-old youth was found hanging from a tree in a tea garden. The incident was reported on Monday in the Koilamari Balijan area of Lakhimpur district, a day after deceased Biki Bishal was allegedly called to his girlfriend’s home, according to a report by NDTV.
The death has triggered protests in the district. The deceased’s family is alleging that his girlfriend’s family killed Biki Bishal for refusing to convert.
Bishal’s family members also claimed that he was found with multiple wounds on his body, and there was blood on his eyes, nose and ear, according to the report.
Police have arrested five people in connection with the case, including two church officials, the father and two uncles of Bishal’s girlfriend, according to a report by Sentinel Assam.
However, the matter is still under investigation and it remains to be determined whether Bishal was killed or died by suicide.
As per local media reports, both Bishal and his girlfriend belong to the same Adivasi community, but he is a Hindu, and she is a Christian.
Bishal’s family claimed that a week before his death, he had eloped with his girlfriend on September 3 and had brought her to his home. Following this, the girlfriend’s family and some church officials reportedly came to his house and forcibly took the girl away.
Before his death on Monday, Bishal reportedly received a call and left. He never returned, according to his family.
They claim the call was from his girlfriend’s family and they killed and hung Bishal from the tree.
“There are allegations that the girl’s family with the help of two church officials put pressure on Bishal to convert in order to marry the girl, but he did not agree,” a senior police officer handling the case told NDTV.
The officer said that police are investigating this aspect and have arrested five people so far and got them for seven-day police remand.
“It is not a case of lynching as it appears from our initial investigation, but we have to ascertain if it is a case of suicide, or he was killed and hanged. We are looking at all aspects,” he added.
Villagers, including members of a right-wing group, allege that Bishal– a Hindu man– was “murdered” for fighting “forced conversion”. They are protesting and demanding justice for his family.
The girl and her family are yet to comment on the case.
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