Activists of 22 students’ unions stage a shirtless protest in Sivasagar. Picture by UB Photos
Jorhat, July 29: The All Tai Ahom Students Union and several other organisations were adamant on staging a protest in the nude on August 2 after talks with former Union minister and Jorhat Lok Sabha MP B.K. Handique at Sivasagar this evening failed to resolve the impasse over the alleged molestation by a soldier.
Handique had urged the organisations to withdraw their proposed protest at Sivasagar in support of their demands.
However, the organisations stuck to their plan after the MP failed to assure them of the fulfilment of their demands.
Adviser to the union, Ashwini Chetia, told this correspondent over phone that Handique had failed to convince them that their demands would be met.
“We asked for a written assurance from him (Handique) to which he did not agree and so we will go ahead with our plan to stage a protest in the nude on the streets of Sivasagar,” Chetia said.
The molestation case had come close on the heels of the one on GS Road in Guwahati, which grabbed national attention.
The organisations, led by the union, were adamant on going ahead with the protest, demanding adequate compensation for the victim and arrest of the army jawan involved in the alleged molestation nearly a fortnight ago.
Dispur had asked senior leaders from the Ahom community to prevail upon the organisations and convince them not to go ahead with their programme.
Chetia earlier in the day said the students’ organisation had received a communiqué from Handique, requesting a discussion.
“We will definitely attend the discussion at Sivasagar deputy commissioner’s office but we will not be convinced by any false promises. We will go ahead with the protest unless our demands are met,” Chetia said.
He said there was no response whatsoever from the authorities despite a shirtless protest a few days ago.
This has forced them to go ahead with the protest in the buff.
Yesterday, several women organisations blocked National Highway 37 at Demow for several hours in protest against the incident where a college student was allegedly molested by a jawan, identified as A.K. Upadhyay of Naojan-based army camp, on July 13 afternoon.
The victim had gone to collect firewood in the area near where a group of workers, including her mother, were repairing a breach in a dyke.
The students’ union has been demanding a grant of Rs 10 lakh and rehabilitation for the victim and severe punishment to the accused jawan by conducting the trial in a civil court.
It has also demanded the suspension of a police officer, Pritam Das, who allegedly brought the victim to the army camp for recording her statement by misleading her and her family that she was being taken to the local court.
Sivasagar deputy commissioner Jatindra Lahkar said the district administration has been in touch with the student leaders and has been requesting them not to stage the protest.
“A compensation of Rs 50,000 has arrived from Dispur, which we will hand over to the victim tomorrow. We have also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident,” he said.
Lahkar said an army court inquiry is on into the incident and a local court had granted the plea of the army for the accused jawan’s custody when the police produced him in court on July 16 after his arrest.
“We have done what is required according to the law but if the students’ body goes ahead with the protest then we will have to stop them as this is against the law,” he said.