| (top) Himanta Biswa Sarma and Rockybul Hussain: Defensive
Guwahati, July 14: Ulfa and Ripun Bora, predicted as the hottest topics for the first day of the Assembly today, took a backseat as the Opposition chose to raise a storm over CPI leader Manoj Deka’s death instead.
At the end of the day, the government rushed to announce a judicial probe into Deka’s death by a sitting judge of Gauhati High Court but not before a fuming Opposition accused Speaker Tankha Bahadur Rai of being “biased” and “remote-controlled” by the Treasury benches.
The day’s proceedings began with the Opposition arguing in favour of the admissibility of the adjournment motion moved by them to discuss the government’s failure to protect people’s lives and property since 2001 vis-ŕ-vis the killing of a popular leader like Deka.
The CPI leader was grievously injured after being allegedly assaulted by the personal security officer of Morigaon officer in-charge during a routine frisking at a local market on July 1. Deka died of his wounds at a private nursing home on July 4.
The officer in-charge, Kamal Chandra Bora, was suspended and his security officer Rofiqul Hussain, who assaulted Deka, was arrested thereafter.
Following a wave of protests against the “killing”, the government ordered a judicial probe into the incident on July 5 but did not specify who would conduct the inquiry. When the Opposition sought to discuss Deka’s death in the Assembly today, the government promptly announced that case would be probed by Justice (retired) P.C. Phukan within six months.
The Opposition, however, did not budge from its demand for discussion. They were apparently upset with the government’s impression that Deka may have died of high blood pressure.
In an attempt to appease the Opposition, the government then suggested that the probe could be moved from a retired judge to a sitting justice. But members of the Opposition had trooped into the well of the House by then and were shouting slogans seeking adjournment.
The Speaker, however, continued with his job till the proceedings of the House for the day were completed.
The Opposition staged a walkout when obituary references were being read out by the Speaker.
After the walkout, leader of the Opposition Chandra Mohan Patowary, CPI’s Drupad Borgohain, AUDF’s Aditya Langthasa, BJP’s Mission Ranjan Das, CPM’s Ananta Deka at a joint press conference, accused the Speaker of being biased towards the government and being remote-controlled by the Treasury benches.
The government addressed reporters soon after. Ministers Bharat Narah, Rockybul Hussain and Himanta Biswa Sarma jointly announced that the probe into the circumstances leading to Deka’s death would be conducted by a sitting judge of Gauhati High Court.
“We will be writing to the Chief Justice seeking his consent for a probe by a sitting judge. In the terms of reference, we will also seek the report preferably within three months though the outer limit will be six months,” Hussain said. The ministers, however, ruled out the arrest of suspended Morigaon officer in-charge.