The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Students fight for leader

Dhubri/Guwahati, Oct. 29: The All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union today gave the Assam government 24 hours to release its president, Biswajit Roy, or face an agitation far more intense than the one that led police to arrest him.

Biswajit, whose organisation is suspected of inciting the highway arson that left 22 people injured on Saturday, was arrested at Dhaligaon in Bongaigaon district last night.

The student union issued the ultimatum to release its leader after postponing by a day the indefinite Assam bandh it had planned to impose from tomorrow.

The incident on Saturday occurred in the middle of a 300-hour highway blockade in Upper Assam over the Koch Rajbongshi community being denied the status of a Scheduled Tribe.

Arsonists torched a bus at Nandipara, under Golokganj police station of Dhubri district, for ferrying passengers in defiance of the student union’s diktat.

The union’s general secretary, Pradip Roy, said the indefinite bandh was postponed to give the government 24 more hours to release Biswajit. “If the government fails to release our leader within that period, we will be forced to launch our next phase of agitation on Wednesday.”

The AGP took the union’s side. It said Biswajit’s arrest was an ill-conceived move that would only aggravate the crisis.

Party president Brindaban Goswami said there was no justification in arresting him after the organisation denied its involvement in the arson.

“We condemn the barbaric act of torching the bus with passengers on board. But at the same time, we do not see any justification in the arrest of the student union’s president,” he said.

The police have charged Biswajit under three sections of the IPC, all dealing with non-bailable offences. The charges against him are of arsoning, rioting and damaging public property.

Roy was interrogated at Dhubri police station since morning by superintendent of police Partha Sarathi Mahanta, deputy superintendent (headquarters) Subhasish Barua and officials of intelligence agencies.

The police said Kartik Rai, the general secretary of the union’s Dhubri unit, his Golokganj counterpart Parameshwar Rai and a third activist, Bajrangi Bantia, had confessed to their involvement in the incident.

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