‘The police are now left with only two tasks now – collecting cash from small shops and vehicle drivers, and beating protesters black and blue. When the police commissionerate emerged in the city, the people hoped that they would be more secure under the new police setup, but they are now facing the wrath of power.’ — Deven Dutta
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, February 2: The atrocities on two jourlists inside Latasil police station in Guwahati and the consequent protests by the jourlistic fraternity and the administration’s response to the protests have made Assam a land swept by the wildfire of protest. Today the protests spread statewide. The spill–over effect of the protests was so high that the Axam Xahitya Xabha (AXX) venue at Kaliabor also could not remain immune to the administration’s apathy to the demands and protest of jourlists. This apart, political leaders, activists and various organizations of the state joined the agitating jourlists in their protest.
On the third day of the protest today, the jourlists of Guwahati staged a protest programme in front of the State Secretariat with their faces covered with black bandas. Soon the police came to the scene, arrested the jourlists, and took them to Bashistha police station in a bus only to shift them to a number of other police stations before releasing them at Dispur Last Gate.
The news of arrest of the protesting jourlists spread like a wildfire and protests started at various places in the state. At the AXX venue at Kaliabor, reception committee president Keshab Mahanta was on record saying: “Dispur should have realized the language of the agitating jourlists, and brought the erring police officials to the book by now.”
Meanwhile, after the arrest of the jourlists, Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Sarbanda Sonowal came to the scene. Leaders of various organizations like the Assam Press Correspondents’ Union (APCU), the KMSS, Asom Yuba Parishad (AYP), Goriya Yuva–Chatra Santha and others joined the jourlists in their agitation.
Sonowal said: “The State Government being led by Tarun Gogoi has failed to ensure democratic rights of the people of the state.”
Speaking at the gathering, public activists Deven Dutta said: “The police are now left with only two tasks now – collecting cash from small shops and vehicle drivers, and beating protesters black and blue. When the police commissionerate emerged in the city, the people hoped that they would be more secure under the new police setup, but they are now facing the wrath of power.”
The public activist demanded the immediate arrest of minister Chandan Sarkar, who himself claimed to have stolen rice and sugar, besides arresting former minister Nilomonisen Deka on the charge accepting bribes.
Meanwhile, after their release at Dispur Last Gate, the agitating jourlists took out a procession from Dispur Last Gate to the State Secretariat Gate and concluded their agitation for the day there.
Meanwhile, the Electronic Media Forum called a meeting of jourlists at Guwahati Press Club tomorrow to chalk out the next phase of their agitation.
All Assam Police Association (AAPA) president Pabitra Kumar Sarma had yesterday blamed it on the two jourlists for the incident that had occurred on January 31. Talking to newsmen at Guwahati Press Club in the city yesterday, Sarma had said that the camera of the VDO jourlist had not been stched by the police. “It was stched from the two jourlists by the local people and handed it over to the police station,” Sarma said, and that seemed to have fuelled the fire, leading to such a vigorous agitation today.
Sarma had also levelled a counter–allegation that the two jourlists had also clicked the picture of a woman when she was breast–feeding her baby. He also demanded of the media house not to allow the two jourlists to attend their duty till the disposal of the case since the incident relating to them was sub–judice.
The FIR lodged by lady jourlist Mridusmita Bhuyan of DY 365 said that around 12.15 pm on January 31 last she had gone to the premises of Latasil police station in the city along with her camera person Tapan Das to cover a story on the condition of the quarters of police there. The policeman manning the gate, according to the FIR, allowed them inside the premises. Talking to a lady staying in the premises, Mridusmita came to know that the lady was staying there on rent and as such she would not be able to part any information to them. When the two jourlists were coming out of the premises, the OC of the police station, Chidanda Das, and an SI of Paltan Bazar police station, Samsuddin Ahmed, took the camera forcibly from them and took them to the police station by beating them up, the FIR said.
Meanwhile, the police ordered an investigation by its crime branch and the two erring police personnel were close to reserve. ACP (crime branch) Suleman Ali has been entrusted to investigate the case.
On the other hand, SI Samsuddin Ahmed also filed a counter–FIR in the same police station charging the two jourlists with trespassing. As of now, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi asked the additiol Chief Secretary to inquire into the incident.