Assam minister under probe for role in abuse of women

DP

On November 3, 2010, and again on January 5, 2011, the girls' father wrote to the district magistrate, praying for security. "But due to the influence of the powerful minister, no action has been taken," they said. On February 2, 2011, they approached the Assam Human Rights Commission , which directed an inspector general of police to probe the allegations.

The IGP submitted his report on September 4, 2011. It said that an assistant sub-inspector heading a patrol team had reported the matter to the OC that night but the latter (a sub-inspector by rank) did not heed him. "Had the OC reacted immediately, the whole incident would have been prevented," the IGP's report said. The then SP visited the place only after a week, prompting the IGP to observe that supervision by the SP was "clearly lacking". It also noted that one of those named by the sisters in the attack, Benu Rongpi, "is a close family member of local minister Khor Sing Engti, and the cause of the incident pointed towards the intention of some people to grab the land..."

The attacks continued. On April 28, 2012, some people (whom the two sisters have named) pelted stones at their house; hours later, three women attacked one of the sisters with sticks while she was out bicycling. The sisters, who lodged FIRs for both incidents, alleged no action was taken.

On November 12, 2012, following their letter, the high court observed that it appeared that there was a failure of duty by the concerned functionaries of the state, and said, "it is possible to draw inference against the minister Engti for abuse of his position and commission of crime", thus necessitating investigation by an independent agency.

Impleaded as a respondent, the minister filed an affidavit denying the allegations and saying some of the sisters' statements were made at the instance of his political opponents. "It is denied that any supporter and/or hired goons of the deponent (Engti) had ever committed any act/omission as alleged in the letter... None of the persons named therein is in any way related, connected or in any manner under control or influence of the deponent", Engti said in his affidavit submitted on January 12.

... contd.

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