GUWAHATI: The Assam government has started taking action against 'Chanda' (forceful collection of money from the public).
Police arrested three members of the AASU (All Assam Students' Union) a few days back and two members of another students' organisation on Monday. Both the instances happened in upper Assam.
Last Saturday, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told media persons, "I will not allow the 'Chanda' culture to continue in the state. If any organisation wants financial help to organize any function, they should approach us. But, nobody can demand 'chanda' from any businessman." A senior police official said, "According to law, forceful collection of money from businessmen is extortion. We can take action against such people.
"However, the police was taking a soft stand against some students' organisations who have been demanding 'chanda' from businessmen on various occasions earlier. That was because there was no support from the government.
"Now, the police department will act against such extortionists.
A legal expert said, "If anyone donates, it is legal. But, any form of a forceful collection of money from anyone is illegal."
The lawyer pointed out, "For instance, various Durga puja committees do collect donations. But, they do so through their committees. That is legal. On the other hand, the problem arises when someone complains that an organisation is demanding 'chanda'.
"It is also true that a section of businessmen carries on their trades by willingly giving money to some organisations. What is the role of the police in such cases?"