| Biraj Das |
Guwahati, Jan. 23: Relief has finally come calling at the door of special police officer Biraj Das, who was left paralysed in a militant attack in November 2012 and still has a bullet lodged in his spine.
Assam police is planning to take him to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for treatment and has promised him other assistance as well.
Senior superintendent of police (city) Anand Prakash Tiwari today said Assam director-general of police Khagen Sarma had asked him to visit Das’s house and take steps for his treatment. “I will visit his house on Monday, collect his medical records and discuss his treatment with AIIMS and hospitals in Bangalore. The DGP has asked me to provide all help to Biraj according to my assessment.”
Sources said Sarma asked Tiwari to visit Das’s house after The Telegraph highlighted the SPO’s plight in its January 22 publication.
Biraj, 28, a resident of Panikhaiti, on the outskirts of Guwahati, was shot at by militants on November 17, 2012 in Kokrajhar district, while on duty. The attack left him paralysed waist down. Doctors at the Brain and Spinal Hospital in Chennai could not remove the bullet lodged in his spine as the operation would have further harmed his spinal chord.
His family sold a plot of land and spent Rs 14 lakh on his treatment but is unable to afford another Rs 2 lakh for a stem cell therapy in New Delhi. “We are spending Rs 500 daily for his physiotherapy and are unable to afford his treatment anymore,” his mother Usha, 55, had told this reporter on Tuesday.
Das has received no financial support from the government although his service agreement states that SPOs are entitled to ex gratia in case of injury or death while on duty. To make matters worse, his salary has not been released since September 2013. “We will provide all help for his livelihood,” Tiwari said.
“It is good to hear that the government is coming to my aid. I have been informed by Dilip Saikia, the president of Special Police Officers Welfare Society, that SSP Tiwari will visit my house soon,” Das said.
Nearly 500 SPOs, including Das, had staged a protest march here yesterday. The DGP met representatives of Special Police Officers Welfare Society, an organisation of 850 SPOs who are demanding regularisation of their jobs and release of salaries pending since September last year.
The SPOs were raised by the Assam government in 2008 to guard government officials after the Joel Gorlosa faction of Dima Halam Daogah resorted to largescale violence in Dima Hasao district. They were initially recruited for three months at a fixed salary of Rs 4,839 but their tenure was later extended. Their salary was revised to Rs 8,200 but it has not been released since September 2013.
The SPOs are posted in Dima Hasao, Kokrajhar, Chirang, Nagaon, Kamrup, Barpeta, Nalbari and Morigaon districts.
Sources said Dispur is planning to absorb the SPOs permanently in the Assam Industrial Security Force being planned by the state home department.
“We have decided to withdraw our protest programmes following the DGP’s promise to release our pending salaries soon,” Saikia said.