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Absconding lawmakers

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 Sep 2015 12:00 AM GMT

The police are on the lookout for Gopith Das, AIUDF leader and three-time MLA representing Boko constituency. More than a week has passed since an FIR was lodged against him at Boko police station by the family of a minor girl working as his domestic help. The complaint is of serious ture, accusing Das of sexually assaulting the 14-year old girl inside his car while returning from garbera to Guwahati. After registering a case under Section 343 of the IPC dealing with unlawful confinement, along with relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act — the police sent notices to Das. When the legislator promptly disappeared along with his security personnel, he was declared an absconder and the police conducted raids at his residences in Guwahati and Boko, as well as some other places. Some of his relatives have been detained and questioned about his whereabouts. But Gopith Das remains at large, with sightings of him reported from within Boko to as far as Goalpara. Before going on the run, the legislator spoke to the media. Rubbishing the allegations against him, Das claimed that the girl’s family lodged the complaint at the behest of some mischievous quarters out to destroy his political career. In turn, Das alleged that it was the housemaid who had stolen some valuables from his home and decamped, and was trying to cover up her misdeed by pointing fingers at him. Meanwhile the matter has grown more complicated after a police team, accompanied by members of a child right protection NGO, rescued another minor domestic help from his residence in Guwahati. The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is likely to complain to the Assam Assembly Speaker soon, seeking immediate disqualification of Gopith Das for keeping minor girls as domestic help.

The Gauhati High Court is expected to take up for consideration soon the anticipatory bail plea by Gopith Das, which was earlier rejected by a lower court. There are now allegations that the legislator’s henchmen are making threats and blandishments to get the minor girl’s family withdraw their complaint. Whatever be the truth of these allegations, the question arises — how can a public figure like an MLA with his entire retinue of gun-toting PSOs continue to give police the slip for days on end? It shows up the State police in poor light, dealing with a case that has made headlines in tiol media. The Boko MLA leading the police on a merry chase is reminiscent of how Borkhola MLA Rumi th pulled off a similar vanishing act in April this year. After the arrest of Anil Chauhan, kingpin of a countrywide car-theft racket, the police alleged he had links with th and filed cases against her relating to crimil conspiracy, cheating and harbouring an offender. Rumi th remained untraceable for several days before the noose tightened with the Assembly Secretariat issuing her a notice why she recommended car passes to the alleged car lifter, the Assam Congress president issuing her a show-cause notice and filly the Gauhati High Court rejecting her anticipatory bail plea. The Borkhola MLA then re-surfaced in dramatic fashion at Dispur MLA hostel, calling a press conference to claim her innocence and that she had ‘not been absconding at all’! The case against Rumi th is being investigated and she may yet be exonerated. The allegations against Gopith Das too may not stand. But the manner in which such lawmakers play hide-and-seek with the law enforcement machinery is setting a bad example. In the Banphool gar triple murder case in Guwahati recently, a suspect who is a wealthy businessman, remained absconding for 34 days before he surrendered to the police. By then, he was armed with anticipatory bail because the police had failed to produce substantive evidence against him in court. This is not an option open to common law-breakers.

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