PRIME Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress high command Sonia Gandhi might pat on the back of Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam, for being at the helm of affairs for the third consecutive term and win laurels for ‘invisible achievements’, the state has emerged as the mostunsafe place for women. Even before the grisly image of an adivasi girl Luxmi Orang, part of a protest march against the injustice and discrimination against The Tea tribe people, being disrobed and her modesty outraged in broad day light on the busy Beltola road five years ago of thecapital could be forgotten, another teenaged Mousami Sharma just after returning from a birthday party was swooped upon by a horde of barbaric and mentally perverted youths in the humming Christian basti area of Guwahati around 10 pm on July 9 and openly molested her after beingshorn off her clothes.
The outraging of the modesty of the young girl, not far away from the seat of power, evoked nation wide condemnation quite naturally and at the same time raised the pertinent question why Assam ‘has become so insecure and unsafe for women.’ The first day of the monsoon session ofthe state Assembly was rocked by strong protest on the issue by the opposition, BJP, AGP and AIUDF who asked ‘where is Assam heading for?’
This is not quite unexpected in a state where ‘corruption’ has become a byword for administration. Just a day before the ‘shameful incident’, Baba Ramdevji was in the state capital to meet Akhil Gogoi, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity leader, and while interacting with the media-persons,said 80 per cent of the central funds for development in Assam ‘go to the pockets of ministers and their henchmen’. There was not even a whimper of protest either from the ruling government or the party Congress. Criminalisation of politics and politicisation of administration are now part ofgovernance in the state, reeling under the ever increasing weight of infiltrators from Bangladesh, now a forgotten chapter.
Quite pathetic, the police took more than half an hour to reach the spot where Mousami was being tortured to rescue her while a satellite channel ‘News Live’ owned by an influential minister’ wife in the cabinet of Tarun Gogoi continued to video-record the ‘ugly and horrendous’ shots.And the long delayed police action was justified by the director general of police, Jayanta Kumar Chowdhury, with the reaction ‘police is not an ATM card.’ Nothing surprising in a state where the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had to call an emergency press-meet at night after being pulled upby the centre to declare the formation of a ‘task force’ to keep a tab on the law and order and to prevent a repeat of ignominy to the state. It was an admission on his part that ‘all is not well within the state, particularly women, under his (mis) rule’
When his party MLA Rumi Nath accused of bigamy and playing with the sentiments and feelings of Hindus and facing social and political boycott as reported in ‘Organiser’ issue June 24-31 was being mercilessly assaulted by an angry mob for defying public ban on her entry into herconstituency Borkhola for long 45 minutes on June 29 in a hotel room of the bordering town of Karimganj in south Assam, the police reached the spot to find the MLA, 5-month pregnant, in a state of unconsciousness. Badly battered and bruised, bleeding from nose and mouth, she had tobe taken under heavy escort to Guwahati for immediate medical attention and treatment. If an MLA, however tainted, is ‘kicked and booted’ for long 45 minutes, just a mile away from the police station, what safety is there for ordinary women in particular?
Is there no end to this ‘jungle-raj’ in Assam? The criminals involved in the crime against women will be arrested and also may be put on trial. The process would continue. In the meantime, another jolt for the capital might take place and not unlikely.Luxmi Orang who was stripped andmolested on November 24, 2007 is still waiting for justice. Sharing her bitter experience before the media persons, she said, “Four culprits were arrested and that was the end of the story. I was never called by the police in these five years.”
‘News Live’ and its reporter Amarjyoti Kalita might be at the centre-stage of controversy on the ground of ‘ethics and civics’ of journalism, it was due to the channel that the entire nation could see and know the state of affairs of Assam. National capital was on boil over the incident as thestudents from north east came out on the streets and staged protest demonstration before Assam House to express their hatred and disdain, denouncing Tarun Gogoi government. It was four days after the ‘horrifying incident’ that the centre and its leaders of the ruling party woke up andhammered Gogoi to act. The otherwise ‘talkative and media-bug’ Digvijay Singh, in charge of Assam, maintained ‘intriguing silence’ quite obviously and was replaced by Hari Prasad by the party high command.
This is a tell-tale picture of the break down of law and order in Assam. Women in particular have cause to worry about. The crime-chart against women as released by the Crime Record Bureau of India takes the state to the top slot after Tripura in the country. During the last one year,according to the report, a total of 11,503 crimes were committed which include 1,700 rapes, 3192 kidnappings, 121 dowry deaths, 5246 in-law tortures, 1193 molestations, 8 sex exploitations, 21 trafficking, 29 witch-huntings and 2 trafficking from abroad.National Crime Report Bureau expressing its serious concern at the ever rising phenomenon of crimes against women has pointed out whereas the average rate of national crime is 22.2 per cent for 1 lakh, in Assam it is 36.6 per cent for the same figure of 1 lakh. National WomenCommission has expressed its ire and anguish at the failure of the state government and its administration to curb the escalating crime against women in the state. It sent its team headed by the chairman, Mamata Sharma, to Guwahati for an on the spot investigation. North East Students’Association leaders have rightly said when a girl from ‘our region is ill treated in the national capital, we raise a hue and cry. Look, what happens at our door-step?’