|Chief minister Tarun Gogoi. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, July 17: Dispur today gave a fresh push to the setting up of a police commissionerate in wake of the GS Road molestation as the Assam Human Rights Commission sought a detailed report of the case from Assam director-general of police Jayanto Narayan Choudhury.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi said this evening that he had signed relevant files to expedite the setting up of the commissionerate. “I signed it today. Want it as early as possible because the face of the city is changing. We have to take a long-term view of improving law and order.”
Sources said the file signed by Gogoi was an order to ascertain the status of the proposal to set up the commissionerate. They said the proposed move, which has been hanging fire since October 2006, had allegedly got stalled because a section of bureaucrats was not keen on it, as it would erode their powers to a large extent. Setting up of the commissionerate will, for example, see magisterial powers transferred to police officials, among others. The police commissioner will hold the rank of inspector-general and will report to the DGP.
The sources said Dispur has contacted all the states for help to arrest the culprits and would set up a toll-free number at the police headquarters for those ready to share information about the culprits.
They said so far 18 people have been identified as being involved in the molestation, of whom 12 have been arrested. Five of those arrested last night were produced in the court today and remanded in police custody for five days.
The sources said two friends of the victim deposed before the one-woman Emily Das Choudhury committee, which is probing the incident, at the secretariat for over half-an-hour this afternoon.
A division bench of the AHRC, comprising chairperson Aftab Hussain Saikia and member J.P. Chaliha, issued a notice to the DGP asking him to conduct an inquiry into the incident by an additional DGP-level official and submit the report to the commission within 21 days of the receipt of the notice after taking suo motu cognisance of media reports.
It also asked the DGP to explain whether there was any system of police patrolling in the city, if so, its frequency, and the delay by the police in reaching the spot.
It asked the DGP whether the police had recorded the victim’s statement before a magistrate immediately after she was rescued and, if not, why. It also wanted to know whether there was any reason to believe that the incident was pre-planned and stage-managed by vested interests to derive mileage.
The police today collected the unedited video footage of the incident from News Live and seized the camera used for shooting the incident. It recorded the voice of News Live reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog, who has been accused of instigating the molestation.
The unedited video footage, the voice of Neog and the camera will be sent for forensic examination. Neog may face arrest if his voice matches the voice in the video, for instigating the mob.