Pranab Bodo, 45, a protester who was taking part in that demonstration demanding land deeds, set himself ablaze in front of the Assam Secretariat. Though he was immediately rushed to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital, however Bodo, who sustained hundred percent burn injuries, expired in the same evening.
Pertaining to which on the wee hours of February 3rd, he was arrested by an armed police team from his Nizarapar, Chandmari residence and later on sentenced to a four days judicial custody. He has been grilled under sections 306 and 102(A), which are non bailable.
The fountainhead of the protest was when the Assam Cabinet recently approved giving land settlement to families residing on government land till January 28, 2001. However, the state government refused to give land settlement to anybody living on forest and wetlands. The KMSS disagreed and said the government should give settlement to those who have been dwelling on these lands till December 13, 2005. To press their demands, they decide to take shelter of mass rally and march to the Assam Secretariat and had called for a state wide agitation. But, pertaining to the shocking and despairing incident of Pranab Bodo, the KMSS immediately called off their protest.
This is not the very first time Akhil Gogoi led KMSS’s rally has proved to be malicious and chaotic. Perhaps one would always remember how the June 22nd, 2011 peaceful rally of land agitators led by KMSS turned violent. Further, classes between security forces and protesters claimed three innocent souls including a child, for which Akhil Gogoi was also put behind the bars.
The recent self immolation episode too has strangled Akhil Gogoi, the government as well the security forces under severe criticism.
While the deceased wife, Purnima Boro wife has filed an FIR at Dispur Police station against CM Tarun Gogoi and Revenue Minister Prithivi Majhi, things are also not going right for Akhil, since stacks of cases has also been registered against him as well. Freelance journalist Pranabjit Doloi has lodged an FIR against Akhil Gogoi, alleging he had been inciting the common people and that resulted in the tragic death of Pranab Bodo. The Guwahati Mati Pattakaran Sangram Samity has also demanded the arrest of Akhil Gogoi, accusing him of instigating the self-immolation by Pranab Boro. Further, Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi said in a press conference that, an enquiry is already under process and stringent actions would be taken against Akhil Gogoi.
The lamentable incident of Bodo’s death perhaps put Akhil Gogoi’s leadership under close scrutiny. Being, the chief patron of such a huge organization like KMSS, the responsibility to evade any violence and deleterious situation certainly lies with him. One of the important qualities of a leader is always to think three steps ahead and working to master his/her own environment with the goal of avoiding problems before they arise. Thus the disheartening incident of Pranab Bodo, further questions Akhil’s level of maturity as a leader. The call of the hour is certainly that, the peasant leader now has to re-structure his strategy and give a second thought his course of action.
Secondly, the role of the security forces and police is also condemnable. As per reports carried out by local news channels, from the morning hours itself the police was arranging large quantities of bamboo canes. Also the city dwellers being harassed by the police for checking seemed like the administration and the government was settling personal scores with KMSS. So, it would perhaps not be wrong to say that, these steps proved to be provocative.
As per words of Akhil Gogoi, the government and security forces are solely responsible for this fatal incident. As unable to bear the sight of Pranab Bodo’s wife manhandled by male police personnel, Bodo decided to end his life.
A man ablazing himself in front of the Assam Secretariat in presence of a prodigious security blanket points the needle of dubiety towards the government, security and administration.
Be it on social media or on records, the chief minister of Assam has also been subjected to severe criticism, terming him rigid and fascist in nature.
“There is no justification for Akhil’s demands. His demand is that the people living on forest land and water bodies be given land deeds. How can that be done?” said Mr. Gogoi said.
“They are encroachers and I cannot go against the interest of environment and the people”, added the chief minister, while speaking to reporters.
Assam Tai Ahom Students' Union (AATASU), Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS), All Assam Students Union(AASU) and various other organizations from nook and corner of the state have condemned the incident and criticized the government for its negligence.
It’s worthwhile to mention that Akhil Gogoi and KMSS, as well as the chief minister, have promised to bear every responsibility of Bodo’s family. The chief minister stated that the government would rehabilitate the family of Bodo by providing a job to one of his kin.
However, amidst the hullabaloos of criticism, blame game, clarification and puddling politics, the crux of the matter is that a common man, who perhaps didn’t even understand the political machiavellianism, had been the scapegoat.
National RTI awardee and CNN Indian of the year, Mr. Akhil Gogoi, may have been succeeded in winning multitudinous hearts and made the voices of the people heard, be it by clogging the streets or with anti-government slogans. But, this recent incident has assuredly opened up new gates of thought regarding his strategy, maturity, policy and way of handling situations.
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