GUWAHATI: The Assam Police on Thursday announced a cash reward of Rs one lakh for information leading to the arrest of hitherto little known Nikhil Bharat Bengali Uddastu Samannay Samiti (NBBUSS) president Dr Subodh Biswas, who had allegedly incited a mob through his speech that led to the ransacking of the local office of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in Silapathar on Monday.
Making the announcement of bounty, the State’s director general of police (DGP) Mukesh Sahay, told reporters that the identity of the informer would be kept a secret.
So far, 27 people have been arrested in connection with the incident and the police are on the lookout for five to six others including Biswas and the State president of NBBUSS Sahadev Das. Biswas had gone underground since the incident and Sahay said the Assam Police were trying to track the accused down in coordination with agencies in other States, particularly Arunachal, West Bengal and Maharashtra. Biswas hails from Nagpur, sources said.
Local dailies published photographs featuring Biswas along with Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari besides BJP’s Guwahati MP Bijoya Chakraborty hinting his possible association with RSS.
“Fourteen companies of the police have been deployed in Silapathar. They are being assisted by the CRPF. The Army has also been kept on a standby,” Sahay said.
The police formed an SIT, headed by the senior superintendent of police (CID) Raja Marthandan, to probe the incident. This is in addition to the additional chief secretary VB Pyarelal-headed enquiry commission set up by the State government.
There have been stray incidents of arson in areas falling under Silapathar, where an indefinite curfew has been clamped by the authorities since Wednesday.
“We are trying to find out the antecedents of the organisation (NBBUSS) and its leaders. We will take action against them as per the law. The organisation has been active in Assam for the past two-three years,” Sahay said.
“We received information that he (Biswas) holds a fake medical degree. The SIT will try to find out if the incident was pre-meditated or a spark of the moment. Given the seriousness of the incident, an alert has been sounded across the State,” the DGP said.
A nine-member delegation of State Assembly held a meeting with the leaders of various organisations, including AASU, in Silapathar on Thursday. The lawmakers appealed to people to maintain calm.
Meanwhile, protests against the incident continued with the protestors demanding the immediate arrest of Biswas and others on the run. A 12-hour bandh was observed in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh district on Thursday.
The AASU said it would not stop the protests being staged across the State until the leaders of NBBUSS were arrested. It has lined up a series of programmes in the coming days to register protests.
Following the incident, there is a strong undercurrent of ethnic passion but so far it is under check. Given the seriousness of the issue, the government has appealed to people to restraint and not take law in their hands. The incident that day occurred during a procession which was taken out at the end of a rally. The rally was organised to register protests against alleged harassment of Bengalis on suspicion of being illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Various organisations, including the AASU, viewed the incident as an attack on the Assamese.