A former general secretary of the Teok unit of the Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) was arrested on Wednesday on charges of being involved in the lynching of physician Dr Deben Dutta.
With the arrest of ATTSA leader Manoj Majhi, the total number of people arrested on charges of being involved in the lynching of Dr Deben Dutta at Teok Tea Estate increased to 31.
Informing this in a press briefing at the office of the Jorhat superintendent of police tonight, DIG, Eastern Range, V. Siva Prasad Ganjala said, “A total of 31 persons have been arrested including one more person today.”
He said, “Manoj Majhi, a former general secretary of Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, Teok unit, who has been arrested today, was most likely the main culprit in instigating the violence as per the evidence which the police had got till now.”
The top police official said there was also evidence of a few women being involved and instigating the lynching that followed.
The lockout in the tea estate owned by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited continued for the fourth day on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) has condemned the incident and asked the government to provide fool-proof protection to doctors.
The Jorhat AASU unit in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Roshni A Korati said the heinous act of killing a doctor by stabbing and beating was violation of human rights of the worst order.
They appealed that the culprits be identified and the case be tried in a fast-track court.
The AASU further sought protection for other doctors serving in various hospitals in the district against violence.
It also condemned the silence of the government and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in this regard.
However, five days after the brutal assault and death of Dr Deben Dutta by tea workers of Teok Tea Estate and non-workers on Saturday evening, chief minister Sonowal broke his silence to condemn the heinous crime.
The CM also spoke to members of the family of Dutta over telephone and expressed his empathy.
Chief Minister Sonowal also announced to conduct the investigation in a fast-track court.
It is reported that Aprajita Dutta, wife of late Deben Dutta had asked the Chief Minister to replace Subhan Gowala, the additional deputy commissioner, who is conducting the magisterial probe, for the sake of a fair and impartial enquiry.
The national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Dr Santanu Sen, had earlier gone live on television asking the State government to take a stand within 24 hours on lynching of Dr Deben Dutta and on measures to be taken for safety of doctors at their work places.
Dr Sen, who is also a Trinamool Congress MP, visited the family of late Dutta at their Jagduar Tiniali residence under Teok Revenue circle in the district on Wednesday.
Coming down heavily on the government, Sen had said if the government did not break its silence and take a stand within 24 hours, then medical services including emergency services would be withdrawn in the State.
He further said if the 30 persons (now 31), who have been arrested, are let off on bail as usually happens in most of the cases after elapsed of a certain period of time, then the doctors would again strike work.
“Each and everyone would have to be tried and punished,” said Sen.
The IMA Assam branch boycotted work excluding emergency services on Monday in protest against the heinous act.
Dr Sen while condemning the brutal act said if safety measures are not put in place then IMA would further agitate for the same across the country.
Dr Sen said all doctors have been asked not to work in tea gardens as they are not given adequate protection.
He further told media persons that ADC Subhan Gowala should be replaced with someone else as there was apprehensions that he was siding with the culprits.
It is not known whether this statement by Sen had an impact but the state government has directed Commissioner and Secretary to the government of Assam Shyam Jagannathan to conduct the enquiry into Dutta’s lynching.
While five doctors resigned from different tea gardens, four more persons have been picked up for interrogation.