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‘We tried to dissuade them’

- Akhil declares Pranab Boro swahid, says KMSS will take responsibility

Feb. 24: KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi spoke to Pranab Bora of The Telegraph on the self-immolation and his take on what happened today:

The Telegraph: People such as Kamal Medhi, KMSS secretary, kept talking about an immolation bid. So why did you go ahead with the rally today?

Akhil Gogoi: Yes. A hundred people had threatened to immolate themselves.

TT: Why didn’t you stop them?

AG: We dissuaded all of them. As KMSS leader I have never called for self-immolation.

TT: If you tried to stop everyone, then how could Pranab Boro commit the act?

AG: He was upset and angry when police beat his wife who was part of the protest march at Koinadhara this morning. He told his wife that it was not worth living as the government would not give them the land they had been residing on for 20 years.

TT: Still why didn’t you try to stop him since you knew about it?

AG: We stopped the others but the indigenous people were very emotional ...

TT: Who will take responsibility for his death?

AG: We can say with 100 per cent responsibility that the Tarun Gogoi government is responsible. Most Bodo people are emotional as they feel they will not get land pattas.

TT: What if we were to say that you are now playing the Bodo card to fight your case...

AG: You should not communalise the case...

TT: But won’t you take responsibility for Boro’s death?

AG: We have already declared him a swahid and will take care of his family’s needs.

TT: But won’t you take responsibility since you knew about such a possibility, you are the one who is saying people were very emotional and you are who is saying a 100 people had said they would immolate themselves?

AG: It is the government which is responsible. The incident took place at 9am and the chief minister was busy distributing land pattas from 11am but most indigenous landless feel they will not get it. Election is of paramount importance to the chief minister.

TT: But you won’t take responsibility for what happened today?

AG: We will... As one of Assam’s most responsible organisations how can we not take responsibility?