The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gogoi to let army stay

Dibrugarh/ Guwahati, March 28: Notwithstanding the stink raised by the custody death of Ajit Mahanta in Kakopathar, chief minister Tarun Gogoi today categorically ruled out withdrawal of the army despite demands by several organisations.

The chief minister, on a campaign tour here, also donned battle gear as he jabbed at his opponents and parried their thrusts.

However, the Opposition AGP tried to embarrass his government this afternoon by distributing a purported official letter, which stated that extremists had killed eight persons in Kakopathar on February 10. The letter, purportedly signed by undersecretary J. Baruah of the relief and rehabilitation department, was issued yesterday to sanction ex gratia to the next of the kin of those who were killed in the Kakopathar firing.

AGP leader Apurba Bhattacharjee pointed out in Guwahati that the Congress had violated the code of conduct by ordering the sanction after the poll notification was issued and how it had goofed up by blaming extremists instead of security personnel for the firing. “We will move the Election Commission. We all know the victims died in firing by security personnel,” he said.

Answering queries on the custody death this morning, Gogoi told reporters that the government had already decided on a CBI probe into the police firing that killed eight persons at Kakopathar in Tinsukia district last month. He said the army had also initiated proceedings in the case of the custody death of Ajit Mahanta.

Mahanta’s death had triggered protests and subsequent firing at Kakopathar in Tinsukia district of Upper Assam.

Taking on his rivals, Gogoi’s first picked on BJP leader L.K. Advani for his comment yesterday that the Congress government had failed to provide security to the people of the state. He said it was Advani who, as the then Union home minister, had withdrawn security personnel from the state citing improvement in law and order. “How can he now say that my government has failed to provide security to the people'”

Gogoi further alleged that that it was the BJP, and not the Congress, which lacked sincerity in solving the illegal migrants issue. Daring Advani and the BJP to prove him wrong, he said if they could do so, he would retire from politics. But if they could not, then they should quit.

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