Nityananda Goswami’s son Nayanjyoti lights the pyre in Guwahati on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, June 7: The wife and son of the superintendent of police who was gunned down in Assam have alleged that their pleas from Delhi for an operation to rescue him and the officer’s request a week ago for reinforcements fell on deaf ears.
The family also found insensitive the attitude of an officer — whom the SP’s son refers to as “uncle”, underscoring the trust the family reposes in the force — who retreated with 15 others from the site of the ambush, leaving behind the SP and a constable.
Nityananda Goswami, the superintendent of police at Hamren in Karbi Anglong, was reported missing in action on Thursday afternoon during an operation against militants. His body, along with that of the constable, Ratul Nunisa, was found yesterday morning by a police team.
The SP’s wife, Rekha Goswami, said the police department waited for around 19 hours before launching a rescue mission.
She added that Goswami had approached the police headquarters in Guwahati a week ago and asked for reinforcements but he was denied additional forces.
“Following his missing in action report, I kept telling his colleagues (on Thursday evening) that they should launch a rescue mission but Bedanta Borkakati said they couldn’t do so in the dark and would have to wait for daylight,” Rekha said, hours before her husband’s body was taken for the last rites.
Nayanjyoti, their son, later told The Telegraph: “I had kept in touch with uncle (Borkakati) who told me that he, too, had gone on the operation and was a part of one of the three groups (into which Goswami’s team had split).”
“Uncle, however, told me that he and his group retreated as the militants’ bullets were ‘flowing like water’ and that there were ‘more than 50 men’ in the militants’ group. I kept in touch with uncle constantly. Later in the evening when I again called, uncle said that they had reached the Kanduli border outpost and he and the other 15 men who had retreated had just finished having dinner. When I told my mother this, she was very hurt and wondered how they could eat when two of their colleagues were missing in action,” said Nayanjyoti, who works for a technology and consulting multinational in Delhi.
The son lives in the capital with his mother. They took a morning flight to Guwahati yesterday and learnt at Delhi airport that Goswami had been killed.
Rekha added: “I don’t understand why after seeing 16 people return and getting to know that my husband had not, the department hadn’t sent in additional forces to rescue him. It only means this was a conspiracy to kill my husband.”
Nayanjyoti demanded a CBI inquiry as “we want to know what exactly happened on the ground during the operation”.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has ordered the suspension of the four personal security guards of Goswami. “Theirs is not just an act of negligence but one of cowardice. They should have fought the militants instead of running away,” Gogoi said. “As for a CBI probe, I won’t mind (such a probe).”
Rekha also referred to her husband’s appeal for more forces a week ago. “My husband had told me about this and I today asked state director-general of police (Khagen Sarma) why my husband hadn’t been given additional forces and he said that they didn’t have the men. ‘When he hadn’t been given more men, Goswami should not have gone there (on the operation)’, the DGP told me,” Rekha said.
“I then asked why the DGP hadn’t stopped my husband from going out on the operation, but he didn’t say anything and continued to speak to me normally,” she said.
ASP Borkakati, asked why he did not ask for reinforcements, blamed the “poor mobile phone communication network in the area and bad roads”.
“After several attempts, I could get through to the CRPF camp at Baithalangsu to seek reinforcements. The camp is not less than 70km away. Reaching the place where the ambush took place is not easy as the condition of the road is very bad,” Borkakati said.
Goswami and 17 others had entered the thick jungles of Hamren, around 250km from Guwahati, at 11.30am on Thursday. They were apparently in mufti, dressed in shorts and wearing Karbi gamosas on their heads.
The counter-insurgency operation was intended against the United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA) but the police squad ran into an ambush suspected to have been laid by cadres of the Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT).