A former student leader facing trial for his alleged role in an ULFA-triggered bomb blast in Guwahati has been awarded the gold medal by the Assam governor for topping his post-graduation examination, which he took from behind the bars.
Sanjib Talukdar, among the suspects in a 2019 Guwahati blast that had left 12 injured, topped his class in Sociology in which he enrolled and completed his Master of Arts from Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University (KKHSOU) while being lodged in a jail here.
Governor Jagdish Mukhi presented the gold medal to the under-trial, who had scored 71 per cent marks, at the convocation in Guwahati on Thursday.
Speaking to PTI, Sanjib Talukdar's sister Dolly said, "It is a mixed feeling for us. While we are happy that he has got the gold medal, we are also sad that he is still behind the bars. We know he is innocent and have faith that justice will be done."
The 29-year-old is among the accused in a May 15, 2019, blast on RG Baruah Road in Guwahati. The NIA, which is investigating the matter, in its chargesheet before a special court, had charged him with conspiracy, unlawful activities and providing help and support to the main accused in the case.
Dolly said her brother, who is the youngest of five siblings, was pursuing M Phil in Botany at the time of his arrest, soon after the blast.
"He had completed the theory part of the course but could not complete his M Phil due to lack of access to laboratory facilities from the prison. We hope that he gets time to complete it once he is out," she added.
Dolly said Sanjib opted for Sociology after being imprisoned as it was a subject he was confident of pursuing even with limited resources in jail.
His bail petition is due to be taken up by the Gauhati High Court for hearing in another four months' time and the family is hoping for a ruling in their favour. Sanjib was out on parole briefly last year to attend Dolly's wedding.
He was a president of the Post Graduate Students' Union of Gauhati University, from where he was doing his M Phil at the time of arrest, besides being known in literary circles for his writings and oratory skills, Sanjib's friend, who wished not to be named, said.
"Sanjib always excelled in whatever he undertook. The news of his suspected involvement with the ULFA came as a shocker for us. We hope justice will prevail and the truth will come out," his friend added.
Sanjib has also completed the course for Certificate in HIV and Family Education (CAFE) and Certificate in Human Rights (CHR), both from IGNOU.
He has appeared for Post Graduate Certificate in Geoinformatics from KKHSOU, the result of which is awaited.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)