Nabajyoti Deka, one of the 18 accused in the molestation of a woman outside a bar in Guwahati on July 9 night, has pointed his finger at the TV channel reporter who allegedly staged the assault on the girl and nearly stripped her on a busy thoroughfare.
Employees of the bar Deka and Diganta Basumatary were arrested on Saturday. On Friday, locals of Bishnupur village in western Assam's Chirang district had caught another accused Ghanashyam Mullick.
"He was recognised despite shaving off his beard," said Chirang superintendent of police Sanjeev Krishna.
Four of the accused were arrested on Thursday after a clip of the televised molestation, uploaded on YouTube, went viral and was picked up by major TV channels.
The prime accused, Amarjyoti Kalita, is still absconding though there were unconfirmed reports of Odisha police having arrested him in Bhubaneswar.
Deka and Basumatary were brought to the Bhangagarh police station in Guwahati on Saturday.
The two confessed that the TV channel reporter, waiting outside the bar, began filming the molested girl - National Commission for Women representative Alka Lamba gave away her name - and her friends as they emerged from the bar.
"A heated argument started when the girl objected to being filmed. The reporter asked why they had been drinking. Before we realised, things went out of control. I don't know what came over me and became a part of the drama," Deka said, indicating there was an element of instigation.
Deka's confession matched with RTI activist Akhil Gogoi's allegations (backed with video footage handed over to the police).
A key difference in Gogoi's version was that the reporter Gaurab Jyoti Neog and prime accused Kalita were drinking in a white Honda Brio car parked outside the bar.
Kalita, according to him, passed lewd comments at the girl and her friends emerging from the bar. The reaction from the girls "prompted the voyeuristic video being passed off as social responsibility by the channel".
Details of the incident 'from the horse's mouth' made several organizations and individuals to organise demonstrations outside Mint Bar (outside which the molestation happened) as well as the secretariat-assembly complex on Monday.
A five-day assembly session began on Monday (July 16) amid furore and adjournments over deteriorating law and order.
One of the protests was organized by a group of youths who generated opinions via Facebook, Orkut and other networking sites.
Meanwhile, the police faulted bar owner Rajesh Jalan for informing the wrong police station the night the incident happened.
"Jalan had called up Dispur police station (2km to the south adjoining the secretariat) instead of Bhangagarh police station (1.5km to the north) under which the bar falls. Nevertheless, we suspended Dispur police ASI Subhan Barua for not picking up the phone. Jalan's mobile phone record revealed he had called the number four times. He said he had the Dispur PS number saved because his residence is within that police station's jurisdiction," a senior police officer investigating the incident said.
Assam police director general Jayanta Narayan Choudhury said they were hopeful of nabbing the other accused soon.
"We have announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for information on the prime accused (Kalita) and Rs 25,000 on each of the other absconders," he said.
Kalita, 32, is a resident of Anandapur locality in the Noonmati area of the city. Amtron, the state government-run IT agency had sacked him after the molestation incident generated outrage across the country.
Victim names accused
Neog's name was also mentioned by one of the accused arrested. Nabajyoti Deka, an employee of Club Mint, where the girl had gone, had been one of the men who heckled her.
Deka and arrested colleague Diganta Basumatary had said the reporter, who was waiting outside the bar, began filming the girl and her friends as they emerged.
"A heated argument started when the girl objected," Deka said.
"The reporter asked why they had been drinking. Before we realised, things went out of control."
The victim, who spoke to a Congress women's delegation, also indicated that the reporter had a role to play, said a member of the delegation. So far, seven men have been arrested in the case.
NCW removes Lamba
Ex-DUSU chief Alka Lamba, who was part of the three-member National Commission for Women (NCW) probe team to Guwahati, meanwhile, was dropped from the team after she named the 16-year-old victim before the assembled media.
As the country erupted in protest, NCW chief Mamta Sharma said, "We have removed Lamba from the team for disclosing the name of the victim. Nobody had authorised her to do so."