GUWAHATI/JORABAT, July 17 - Hitting out at the State government for its failure to control cross-border cattle trade, senior advocate Upamanyu Hazarika today questioned the arrest of Dhubri journalist Rajib Sarma in a criminal complaint, �which caused him to lose his father�, who died of shock in a heart attack.
Hazarika, under whom a one-man commission was formed by the Supreme Court in 2015 to study the condition of the Indo-Bangladesh border, also alleged that the arrest of the journalist, who was demanding a high level inquiry into the cattle trade in Dhubri, demonstrates the depth and strength of the cattle smuggling mafia in Dhubri district bordering Bangladesh.
Raising serious questions over the efficiency and intentions of the State government as well as Dhubri district administration in controlling cattle smuggling, Hazarika stated that in the last five years cattle smuggling has only increased and there is continuous transportation of cattle from different parts of Assam to Dhubri.
�While executing the Supreme Court Commission, I had, while inspecting the riverine islands in the Dhubri border, noticed a large number of cows which had been recovered by the Border Security Force in the process of being smuggled to Bangladesh. The cows were of different breeds from different parts of the country which would be transported to Assam by the land route, finding their way into Dhubri for onward smuggling to Bangladesh. I had in my report, suggested that there should be strict regulation of inter-state transportation of cattle,� Hazarika stated.
The one-man commission had also recommended relocation of the cattle market 20 kilometres ahead of the international border with Bangladesh and proper strengthening of the river police.
Meanwhile, the Journalists Association of Assam (JAA) has strongly condemned the arrest of Sarma in a �concocted case filed by a local forest official�.
JAA president DN Chakravartty, in a statement, drew the attention of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal for intervening in the matter and dispense justice to the aggrieved journalist.
JAA condemned the �unlawful and inhuman police act of dragging Sarma out of his house at midnight just before the demise of his father�.
AGP general secretary and MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita also condemned Sarma�s arrest and sought action against the guilty policemen for their alleged highhandedness. Kalita also urged Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to order a high-level inquiry to unearth the conspiracy behind the scribe�s arrest.
Journalists� of greater Dimoria region staged a protest demonstration at Sonapur this afternoon against the arrest of Sarma. They alleged that the police were muffling the bold voice of Sarma, who has been exposing cattle smuggling and corruption in the forest department.
The protesting journalists also prayed for eternal peace of the soul of Sarma�s father.
The Dimoria Sangbadik Sanstha submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal through the Sonapur Circle Officer demanding justice for Sarma.
Meanwhile, Moon Talukdar, general secretary of Gauhati University (GU) Post Graduate Students� Union, while talking to The Assam Tribune, expressed his displeasure over the suppressive policy of the government on the fourth pillar of democracy.