Assam minister’s arrest puts spotlight on old cases

June 8th, 2008 - 3:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, June 8 (IANS) An Assam minister’s arrest on charges of trying to bribe a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official to hush up a murder case has brought into spotlight the assassination or disappearance of some important political functionaries in the northeastern state - with the opposition out to corner the ruling Congress here. Ripun Bora, who was later sacked as education minister, was arrested by the CBI in New Delhi Tuesday for allegedly trying to pay Rs.1 million as a bribe to an official of the agency investigating the murder in 2000 of a student leader Daniel Topno. Bora has since been dropped from the Tarun Gogoi ministry and suspended from the Congress party.

“Chief Minister Gogoi is patronizing many criminals in his team. His government must clarify its position after the wife of assassinated Congress leader Manabendra Sharma has demanded a probe by the CBI into her husband’s murder,” said Brindabon Goswami, president of the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).

Sharma, general secretary of the Assam Congress, was shot near his Guwahati home Feb 22, 1991. The case has not been cracked yet. The AGP was in power in Assam when the murder took place.

Opposition parties have also now upped the ante on the mysterious disappearance of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Prassana Turung and his wife Kamai from their native Margherita, in eastern Assam.

Turung, who was the NCP candidate in the Margherita assembly constituency at the 2006 polls, has been missing along with his wife since April 8, 2007.

“There could be a political conspiracy behind the disappearance of the Turung couple. This is a fit case for a CBI investigation,” said NCP state president Dhirendra Dev Adhikary.

Pradyut Bordoloi, the state’s power minister represents the Margherita seat.

Another key opposition party, the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) has sought the Gogoi government’s resignation on moral grounds.

AUDF working president Hafeez Rashid Ahmed Chowdhury said: “Gogoi was all along sheltering a suspect in his team who is now in CBI’s grip.”

The sacked minister was sent to the Tihar jail Saturday on 14-day judicial custody by a Delhi court.

On its part, the ruling Congress is trying to dismiss the opposition charges by pointing out the speed with which Gogoi had dropped Bora from the council of ministers and the party suspending him.

“Our chief minister had made it clear that the law will take its course in the Bora matter and has wasted no time in dropping him from his ministry. The Congress party has also suspended him quickly. We are not here to protect anyone engaged in unlawful activity,” said senior Congress leader and minister Bharat Chandra Narah.

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