CID to investigate arrest of Assam journalist who 'exposed' nexus between cattle smugglers, cops

Rajib Sarma was arrested from his residence in Assam’s Gauripur at 2 am on Thursday, hours before his 64-year-old father passed away due to cardiac arrest

FP Staff July 18, 2020 14:28:47 IST
CID to investigate arrest of Assam journalist who 'exposed' nexus between cattle smugglers, cops

Assam Police on Friday announced a CID investigation into the arrest of a journalist Rajib Sarma, taken into custody on charges of misbehavior with the wife of a district official.

The DY365 channel journalist was arrested from his residence in Assam’s Gauripur at 2 am on Thursday, hours before his 64-year-old father passed away due to cardiac arrest. Following an uproar over his protest, the district superintendent of police and the divisional forest officer (DFO) were transferred, PTI reported.

Sarma was granted interim bail on the same day as his arrest, however he reached home to find that his father had passed away, NDTV reported. “I have not even seen his (Roy’s) wife. I have not even spoken to her. This is a conspiracy on the part of the existing nexus between influential people who are involved in these illegal activities,” Sarma had said after being released.

Sarma did a series of news reports claiming that cattle smuggling in Dhubri district was thriving on the alleged nexus between the DFO and district police. "The case of the arrest of a local journalist of electronic media has been transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department for a proper probe," Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) GP Singh told reporters on Friday.

Meanwhile, Dhubri DFO Biswajit Roy had lodged a police complaint against Sarma accusing him of extortion and misbehaving with his wife. He has been charged under sections 389 (putting person in fear of accusation of offence, in order to commit extortion), 384 (punishment for extortion), 385 (putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extor­tion), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code

On Friday, a local court granted Sarma an interim bail to complete the last rites of his father. The ADGP said the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Cell will be investigating the DFO's case separately and it will be unrelated to the criminal case against the journalist. Dhubri district forest officer Roy alleged Sharma attempted to extort Rs 8 lakh from him on the basis of fabricated news regarding his involvement in a cattle smuggling syndicate.

Singh also said that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) will be formed to inquire about the role of Dhubri district police in cattle smuggling cases in the last two years. "I have done the preliminary inquiry today and will submit my findings to the DGP and the chief minister by tonight," the police officer said.

Apart from bringing the issue to the National Human Rights Commission and Press Council of India’s attention, DY365 channel has also decided to move the Gauhati High Court, according to The Wire. Atanu Bhuyan, consulting editor of DY365, said, “Our decision to move the high court is final. It is not fair that a journalist is whisked away by the police in the late hours, like a common thief. His father died out of shock. Only Rajib and his father lived together in the house. When Rajib was taken away, the neighbours found the doors open the next day. His father was already dead; it is believed he died of shock.”

A BJP delegation met Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and submitted a memorandum denouncing the arrest and seeking an impartial probe into the case. The Guwahati Press Club too sought the chief minister's intervention in the matter so that the scribe's family is not harassed unnecessarily. "We want the CM to intervene and ensure that Mr Sharma is not harassed in the name of investigation," president Manoj Kumar Nath and secretary Sanjay Ray of the press club said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Assam government transferred Dhubri Superintendent of Police Yuvraj to 1st Assam Police Battalion at Ligiripukhuri as its commandant. Charaideo's SP Anand Mishra replaced him. The Environment and Forest Department also transferred Roy to the Genetic Cell Division in Guwahati. The current DFO of the Genetic Cell Division, PV Trimbak, will be posted to Dhubri, according to an order.

With inputs from PTI

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