The Guwahati molestation case has now been politicised, with Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi claiming on Tuesday that it could be a “conspiracy” against him.
He was supported by RTI activist Akhil Gogoi, who claimed the incident was orchestrated by a faction within the government which was targeting the chief minister.
NewsLive television, which aired the 30-minute video of the molestation, is squarely in the dock. After its reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog, channel editor Atanu Bhuyan resigned on Tuesday.
But saying “the case proves the increasing instability of the Assam government and the factionalism within the ruling party,” Akhil Gogoi indicated that the trouble lay further up.
The channel’s chief managing director, Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, is the wife of state education and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Sarma, the most influential minister of the Gogoi ministry, had turned against the chief minister after his campaign to position Gogoi as a vice presidential candidate failed.
The Gogoi camp had alleged that Sarma was actually eyeing the chief minister’s post, which would have become his had Gogoi vacated it.
The chief minister had his guns trained on the channel. Welcoming the resignation of Bhuyan, the CM advised the channel’s managing editor (Syed Zarir Hussain) to quit too.
Akhil Gogoi, who was the first to point fingers at the channel, had got hold of a raw footage, in which the reporter was purportedly heard telling the mob to strip the girl. At the end, the victim was heard blaming the journalist.
Defending the reporter, Bhuyan said, “If the voice of the person instigating the mob as seen in the (raw) footage was that of Gaurav, he should be punished. But he said those were not his words”.
Expressing doubts about the impartiality of the probe, the editor said he quit so the channel’s management wouldn’t be under pressure from the government.
Five more persons, meanwhile, were caught late on Monday night, taking the number of arrested people to 12.
“Prime accused Amarjyoti Kalita is yet to be traced,” said Assam police chief Jayanta Narayan Choudhury.
In Delhi, the National Commission for Women (NCW) submitted its report to women and child development minister Krishna Tirath.
The NCW has questioned the role of the police, alleging that the forces took too long to reach the spot, said an official.