| Biraj Das (in wheelchair) and other SPOs at the protest march in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Jan. 22: Assam director-general of police Khagen Sarma today assured the agitating special police officers (SPO) that he would try to address their grievances, including government support for treatment of Biraj Das who was left paralysed waist down in a militant attack in 2012.
“I heard their grievances and will take steps,” Sarma told The Telegraph after meeting representatives of Special Police Officers’ Welfare Society here.
The assurance came hours after Das, confined to a wheelchair, joined nearly 500 of his colleagues in a march here to seek regularisation of jobs and release of pending salaries. The rally was taken out from Dighalipukhuri point to Assam Engineering Institute playground at Chandmari, a distance of about 3km. Earlier, accompanied by his colleagues, Das travelled 20km from his home at Panikhaiti to the city.
The humid weather and the chaotic traffic on GNB Road bothered him but failed to dampen his spirit. “I came here to let people and the government know about my sufferings. Looking at me, I hope the government will have mercy and do something for all of us,” he told this reporter at Chandmari.
Das, 28, was shot at by militants on November 17, 2012 at Serfanguri in Kokrajhar district, about 280km from here, where he was on pantry duty of a construction company engaged by NHAI for East-West Corridor project. The Telegraph, in its January 22edition, had highlighted his plight. His family sold a plot of land and spent Rs 14 lakh on his treatment but is unable to afford another Rs 2 lakh to send him for a stem cell therapy in New Delhi.
Many of his colleagues came and shook hands with Das. The occasional smile on his face suggested that he was touched and happy over the enthusiasm shown by his colleagues. “Help Biraj Das, help us,” shouted those in the first row and the rest echoed.
At the end of the march, Dilip Saikia, president of the Special Police Officers’ Welfare Society, said the DGP had invited them to meet him at 12.45pm.
After the meeting he said, “The DGP said our pending salaries are likely to be released within a month. But we have been given similar promises in the past too. We are discussing whether to go ahead with our protests till Republic Day”.
Assam home commissioner G.D. Tripathi told The Telegraph today that the state government was considering the demands of the SPOs.
The 850 SPOs were raised by the Assam government in 2008 to guard government officials after militants of Joel Gorlosa-led Dima Halam Daogah (DHD-J) 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 the salaries have not been released since September 2013.
The SPOs are at present posted in Dima Hasao, Kokrajhar, Chirang, Nagaon, Kamrup, Barpeta, Nalbari and Morigaon districts.