Why did BJP field my father’s killer in Assam, asks journalist’s daughter

Guwahati : The daughter of journalist Kamala Saikia is furious that the BJP has fielded in Assam’s assembly elections former ULFA militant Kushal Dowari, who is alleged to have killed her father.

Dowari is contesting from Thowra constituency in Assam. Akashitora is all the more angry that union Home Minister Rajnath Singh campaigned for the former militant.

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Kamala Saikia was the first journalist to be killed by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

A harsh critic of the outfit, Saikia was taken away by militants from his house on the night of August 9, 1991, in Sivsagar. His body was recovered the next morning.

“It is an open secret that Kushal Dowari is the person behind the killing of my father. He was the commander of the banned outfit in 1991. While we have been waiting for justice for 25 years, the BJP has given ticket to Dowari,” said Akashitora.

On March 30, Rajnath Singh visited Assam and addressed election rallies at Duliajan, Mahmora, Thowra and Moran. He also shared the dais with all the party candidates, including Dowari.

Dowari was elected to the Assam assembly in 2006 as an independent. But he lost to Congress candidate Sushanta Borgohain in 2011. Now he is a nominee of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“Why does the BJP, which talks so much about clean governance, have to give ticket to a candidate like Dowari who killed my father?” asked the anguished daughter.

“The self sworn affidavit of Dowari clearly mentions how many cases, of what nature are pending in different courts against him,” Akashitora said.

“Why should the home minister of the country campaign for a candidate who has cases of murder, attempted murder, destruction of evidence and much more registered against him?” she asked.

Born in 1920, Kamala Saikia was a freedom fighter. He took to teaching in his later years and then become a journalist.

Although the Saikia family lodged an FIR after the murder, the police closed the case after investigating it for seven years, citing insufficient evidence and witnesses.

But following public outcry, the Assam government reopened the case and handed over the probe to the Criminal Investigation Department, which submitted a report in 2008 without convicting anyone. It claimed that it could not find any conclusive evidence.

“My mother died some years ago with the pain that the killers of her husband are still at large. Are we going to get justice? The BJP must understand that the conviction of Dowari will take time as people fear him. No one dares to give evidence against him,” the daughter said.

Dowari, however, refuted the allegations and said his name had been dragged by the Saikia family without reason.

“ULFA admitted to have killed Saikia but the family has been unnecessarily dragging my name,” he said, and said Akashitora had political motivation.

“I am in no way associated with any killing. I am not bothered about the allegations. I have no time to reply to them,” he said.

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms and Assam Election Watch, of the total of 539 candidates in the fray in the first phase of polls in Assam, 30 candidates have criminal cases against them.

And 25 of them face very serious criminal cases including murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping.

They include eight candidates from the Congress, three of the BJP, three of the All India United Democratic Front, one each of the Communist Party of India-Marxist and CPI-Marxist-Leninist-Liberation, as well as several independents.