The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested a cabinet minister of the Assam government for allegedly offering a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to an agency official to hush up a case on Tuesday. Following the incident, Assam’s Education Minister Ripun Borawas sacked by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
Bora, the CBI said, is a suspect in the murder case of student leader Daniel Toppo. Toppo, a political rival of Bora, was killed in the year 2000.
Bora’s associate, Mukul Pathak, apparently a journalist with a local Assamese daily, was also arrested.
Investigation of the Toppo murder case is with the CBI.
The CBI claimed that Bora had tried to approach one of their officials through Pathak to fudge the outcome of their investigation. The official then informed his seniors and filed a complaint. A criminal case was registered against the two.
A trap was laid and Bora was arrested from Mathura Road in South Delhi when he came to meet the official.
Toppo, the district president of the All-Assam Tea Tribe Students Union, was Bora’s rival candidate during the 1996 assembly polls. The case had been handed over to the CBI in 2001 after the Assam Police failed to make any breakthrough in the case. The state CID had given Bora a clean chit but the Guwahati High Court ordered a CBI probe into the matter.
Following Bora’s arrest, Pathak, who was travelling from Delhi to Guwahati, was arrested at Delhi airport. Bora, the CBI said, had been questioned several times in the case.
The news of the arrest had the opposition parties baying for chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s blood. Gogoi has often been accused of giving a coterie of young ministers including Bora a free hand and turning a blind eye to their “excesses”.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg, and says a lot about Gogoi’s governance,” said Asom Gana Parishad general secretary Dilip Kumar Saikia. The BJP also came down heavily on the Congress government demanding its ouster. “Gogoi should own moral responsibility and quit,” said BJP state unit president Ramen Deka.
One of the influential ministers in the Gogoi cabinet, Borah was accused of masterminding the murder of pro-AGP tea tribe students’ leader Daniel Toppo near Gohpur in Assam’s Sonitpur district on September 27, 2000. The AGP government led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta subsequently handed over the case to the CBI. According to the AGP, Toppo was “removed” as his influence could have marred the chances of Bora winning the Gohpur seat in the 2001 Assembly election.
Bora won that election and retained Gohpur seat in 2006. The CBI records name one Uma Kanta Mizar as one of Toppo’s possible murderers.