Gaurav Jyoti Neog, the Newslive channel reporter who has been accused of "planning and directing" the ghastly mob attack on a 20-year-old girl in Guwahati, has resigned. Right To Information (RTI) activist Akhil Gogoi had claimed that he has in his possession video footage that proves Mr Neog "incited" the 50-strong mob. The RTI activist held press conferences on Friday and Saturday to prove his allegations.
Mr Gogoi showed footage at his press conference today which had a voice asking for the girl being molested to be brought to a well-lit area since the camera had arrived. Mr Gogoi has suggested a forensic test to prove that the voice is Mr Neog's. The voice, he alleges is heard making lewd comments, but that these comments were beeped out in the footage that Newslive aired. He has refused to release the footage he has in public, he says, but says he will give it to the National Commission for Women (NCW), which is inquiring into the incident.
However, Mr Neog has said that the charges against him were 'malicious and wild'. "There are allegations levelled against me that I orchestrated the molestation on the girl on GS Road on the night on July 9. I strongly deny and refute the allegations as malicious and wild," he said in a signed statement.
Mr Neog said he had carried out his professional duties as a responsible journalist by asking for a camera unit from his office and filmed the "nightmarish incident to fulfill the social responsibility of identifying the molesters and get them punished." He also said he requested the management of the channel to relieve him of his duties till he was cleared of the charges and said he felt it was his responsibility to enable a free and fair trial.
"I will cooperate with the investigation process ... I would like to come back and join the organisation again with my head held high," he added. Mr Neog has also resigned from the primary membership of Electronic Media Forum Assam, which was accepted.
Even though Mr Neog has rejected Mr Gogoi's charges, he does say he was present that night at the pub, Club Mint, which the victim had just left when the incident happened. His Editor Zarir Hussain said Mr Gogoi is indulging in vendetta because his channel has questioned the activist's credibility. He says his reporter, Mr Neog in fact tried to help the girl and that Newslive has that on video. Mr Gogoi, he alleges, has played footage out of context.
The 20-year-old victim was molested at about 9:30 on Monday night for around 40 minutes on a busy street outside the pub in Guwahati's Christian Basti area. Just one kilometre away is the nearest police station, and the government's headquarters at the state secretariat. But the police took 30 minutes to get there after they received an emergency call.
Dipya Bordoloi, Newslive's night reporter and a cameraperson managed to capture the incident that was subsequently aired on the channel that night. Mr Bordoloi said he tried to help the girl but was outnumbered by the many men in the mob attacking the girl. On Monday night, the channel aired edited footage - it showed just the policemen arriving to rescue the girl, about 20 minutes after she was attacked.
Mr Bordoloi had, earlier, confirmed to NDTV that his colleague, Mr Neog, was present at the spot and that it was he who informed the channel about the incident. Mr Bordoloi, who was the night reporter, then reached with a camera crew.
Mukul Kalita, the editor of a local newspaper, Ajir Asom, told NDTV that he was passing by when he chanced upon the girl being beaten by the mob on Monday night. "She held on to me, saying 'Uncle, help me' while the mob heckled me," Mr Kalita said. He too was beaten up and his clothes were bloodstained after the incident. Mr Kalita said even after the police had rescued the girl, the mob followed her into the police jeep which was filled with armed cops, and hit her.
The police says the main accused is a man named Amarjyoti Kalita, seen wearing a red shirt in the video. The police believe he instigated and led the mob that molested the victim. His Facebook profile describes him as James Bond. Six people have been arrested so far in connection with the incident. The police had identified 12 people from the video and the hunt for the others is on.