Guwahati: Almost a week after the alleged molestation of a teenage girl by a mob brought shame to the whole nation, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Kumar Gogoi on Tuesday admitted that there were severe lapses in the police handling of the case.
Addressing a press conference in the state capital, Gogoi said, “I admit there were serious lapses on part of the local police, which was indifferent to the case and delayed a swift response.”
The Assam Chief Minister was, however, quick to say that the alleged molestation of the teenage girl was not just a simple law and problem. “Guwahati molestation is not just a law and order problem. It is beyond that and we need to reform the entire police force. The incident is an eye opener and now I want to strengthen the law and order situation in the state,” he stated.
Gogoi also expressed his gratitude to the media for reporting the incident and filming the alleged molestation of the victim by mob as it has now become credible evidence and helped in the culprits` arrest.
The Chief Minister giving a word of caution to media said, “Media needs to be very responsible. It should understand its limitations as well as its strength. Similarly, one should also take responsibility for his act.”
Apparently taking a dig on the former Editor-in-Chief of News Live Atanu Bhuyan, Gogoi said, “Being a journalist he should have had the guts to face the Chief Minister.”
“For the last 11 years, people have been writing against me. Whom did I pressurise? If he is a journalist, he should have the guts to face the chief minister. Why did he resign on apprehension?” Gogoi asked.
“If he does not have the guts, he should not have been a journalist,” he said.
Gogoi also regretted that victim’s identity was accidently revealed not once but twice – first by Alka Lamba from fact-finding team of National Commission for Women (NCW) and then by the Chief Minister’s office.
Gogoi yesterday met the girl and assured her of all possible help. Following the meeting, the CM’s office issued a press release in which the victim`s name was mentioned and her photograph was also shared. In a bid to do damage control, Gogoi`s office immediately sent out an e-mail to reporters asking them to protect the girl’s identity.
“I regret that victim’s name was revealed by my office but we immediately corrected that mistake and asked the media not to publish her name,” he said.
The Assam Chief Minister also promised full protection to the victim, saying, “The girl will be properly rehabilitated, provided full security and all necessary help from the state.”
The revelation of victim’s name led to widespread condemnation, including BJP`s Smriti Irani who said it was violation of Supreme Court directives.
Taking strong cognizance, the NCW removed Congress leader Alka Lamba from the fact-finding panel after during a press meet in Guwahati, she made public the victim`s name.
Meanwhile, Guwahati`s top police officer was also shunted out following public outrage over the molestation of the teenage girl outside a pub here and his controversial comments over the incident.
City SSP Apurba Jiban Baruah, who had termed the Class XI student`s ordeal as a stray incident that was hyped by the national media, has been transferred to Dibrugarh and replaced by SP of that city Arabinda Kalita.