Tarun Gogoi denies having pressured TV channel to sack Atanu Bhuyan

Atanu Bhuyan, Editor-in-Chief of television channel News Live, which telecast the July 9 molestation incident here, resigned on Monday.

But he was apprehensive that a probe into the charge that the journalist of the channel, Gaurab Jyoti Neog, instigated the incident might not be impartial, as Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had remarked that the journalist was duty-bound to inform the police, but he did not.

“I apprehend that the probe will not be impartial and may be influenced by the Chief Minister’s comments. Gaurab was interrogated for four hours by the police yesterday [Monday] before he was allowed to go following the comments… by the Chief Minister,” Mr. Bhuyan said at a press conference here.

Denying the charge, the Chief Minister told journalists that he had never spoken to the management of any media outlet, let alone mount pressure on News Live. Even if there was any pressure on him, Mr. Bhuyan should have faced it as it behoved a journalist.

The Chief Minister reiterated that the journalist had the responsibility to inform the police, though he maintained that the video helped the police in arresting the culprits.

Mr. Bhuyan defended Mr. Neog and the cameraman for having shot the incident, arguing that they had only done their duty as journalists. The cameraman took close-up shots of the molesters and that helped the police arrest them.

Mr. Bhuyan said he decided to resign because he was apprehensive of pressure on the channel management to remove him. He is one of the five members on the Board of Directors, headed by Chairman and Managing Director Riniki Bhuyan Sarma, who is the wife of Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Earlier, Mr. Neog resigned after Team Anna member and Right to Information activist Akhil Gogoi charged him with instigating the molestation. Mr Neog alleged a conspiracy against him.

Mr. Bhuyan said Mr. Neog had denied the charge that he was a close friend of the key accused, Amarjyoti Kalita, who is still at large.

The police have so far arrested 12 molesters.

Mr. Bhuyan said he had uploaded the edited footage, which was telecast by News Live, on his YouTube account, and it was picked up by various channels.

But he admitted that the shot in which the journalist asked the name of the victim ought not to have been telecast by the channel.

Mr. Akhil Gogoi termed Mr. Bhuyan’s resignation “a victory for the people of Assam.” He reiterated his charge that the incident was orchestrated by Mr. Neog and Amarjyoti Kalita and demanded that both be arrested immediately.

Mr. Bhuyan said Mr. Neog had denied knowing Kalita and the call records of both could be checked to verify his claim. If forensic examinations and the probe revealed Mr. Neog’s complicity, he should be punished.

But Mr. Akhil Gogoi said he did not have faith in the forensic test. If any anomaly was found in the examination of the raw footage, his organisation, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, would get it examined by an independent agency.