Jorhat, Aug. 29: Four police escorts of controversial Congress legislator Rupjyoti Kurmi have told a local court that he had actually assaulted a police driver, though the civilian driver of his escort vehicle has denied witnessing the act.
The statements were recorded before the additional chief judicial magistrate (Jorhat) S. Dhar under Section 164 CrPC, to be used as part of the evidence in the case.
The case (number 159) was registered at Mariani police station on the basis of an FIR lodged by the driver, constable Kamal Mohan, who alleged that Kurmi and his PSO Dipu Saikia had beaten him up late on August 20 night near Kathanibari tea estate on Jorhat-Mariani road.
The accused were booked under Sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 294 (obscene act in a public place), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC. Section 332 is non-bailable.
Another case (number 160) was registered at the same police station after Kurmi lodged a counter FIR, alleging that there was a conspiracy to kill him, and sought a probe.
The legislator’s police escort was withdrawn after the incident. Police sources said though Kurmi was “not entitled” to escorts with a vehicle, it was provided after tension erupted along the Assam-Nagaland boundary in his constituency following the killing of a tea garden worker by suspected rebels from the neighbouring state.
The four policemen — Tarun Sarmah, Bidyadhar Nath, Bijit Gogoi (all constables) and havildar Bhuban Gogoi — in their statements before the additional chief judicial magistrate stated that Kurmi had physically assaulted Mohan after the truck coming from the opposite direction nearly grazed his vehicle while passing it.
They said Kurmi first yelled out at the driver, turned his vehicle around, gave chase and stopped the truck. After alighting from his car, Kurmi allegedly hit Mohan, injuring him on the nose. The policemen said they had tried to prevent Kurmi from beating up the driver but could not stop him.
They said after Kurmi, his PSO, too, had assaulted Mohan. However, the driver of the escort vehicle (AS 03-F 1470 requisitioned by police) Jiban Gogoi said in his statement that he had not seen Kurmi assaulting Mohan.
Gogoi said he only saw the PSO hitting Mohan, though he had seen the legislator scolding the driver. He also stated that the truck driven by Mo-han would have collided with Kurmi’s vehicle had its driver not swerved it off the road.
On the other hand, police sources said they had issued a notice to Kurmi under Section 41 CrPC to come and give his statements to the police in both cases. Last week, the police had said they had not been able to contact Kurmi to get his statement recorded.
This correspondent, too, could not contact Kurmi, who had been appearing in news channels in recent times and has denied assaulting the driver, as his mobile phone was switched off today.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who arrived here this afternoon on his first visit to his home district after the controversy broke out last week, held a meeting with top officials of various departments to review the progress of various government schemes and projects.
He visited Thengal Manor, the ancestral house of tea doyen Hemendra Prasad Barooah who passed away on July 31 in Bangkok, late tonight.
Gogoi is also scheduled to visit the revered Dhekiakhowa Barnamghar on the outskirts here tomorrow and offer prayers.