Assam minister arrested by CBI, dropped from cabinet (Second Lead)

June 4th, 2008 - 12:01 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Guwahati, June 3 (IANS) Assam Education Minister Ripun Bora was Tuesday arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in New Delhi while trying to bribe its official probing a murder charge. Following the incident, he was sacked by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. “Bora has been arrested red handed while he was trying to give a bribe of Rs.10 lakh (Rs.1 million) to a CBI official,” the bureau said. He was arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

“I have decided to drop Ripun Bora from my cabinet with immediate effect and the education portfolio will be with me now. The law will take its own course. No one is above the law,” Gogoi, who is in New Delhi on an official visit, told IANS.

Sources said a Guwahati-based journalist of an Assamese daily has also been arrested along with Bora. Another person Ramesh Maheshwari, said to be a businessman, too has been detained by the CBI.

But officially the CBI has said that only one person has been arrested.

“Along with the (state) cabinet minister, a middleman was arrested at Guwahati. Bora approached the CBI official through the middleman,” a CBI official said.

The CBI is investigating the 2000 murder of Daniel Topno, a Congress leader in northern Assam’s Gohpur town, and was apparently probing whether Bora had any role in the murder.

Opposition parties in Assam have condemned the alleged attempt by Bora to bribe officials of the country’s apex investigating agency.

“This incident is unprecedented in Assam’s electoral history,” Dilip Saikia, vice president of the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad said.

The state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also reacted sharply to the incident.

“The chief minister should also resign owning moral responsibility as one of his minister’s was involved in such a shameful crime,” Charan Deka, a senior BJP leader, said.

The All Assam Students Union (AASU) too echoed similar views. “This is a shame on the Congress and the chief minister should immediately resign,” AASU leader Samujjal Bhattacharya said.

Bora is expected to be produced at the Patiala House courts in Delhi Wednesday.

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