Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday lambasted a section of the national television media for allegedly trying to paint a "negative picture" of the greater Assamese society in the wake of molestation of a girl in the city on July 9.
"I am unhappy and angry and this is most condemnable. The media (national) wanted to blame and project a negative picture of the Assamese society by giving the impression that women are not safe here," Gogoi told reporters.
"This is the reason why the people of the North Eastern region feel alienated...I want to make it clear that the entire Assamese society is not responsible for this heinous crime. The government is firm to bring the culprits to book", a visibly angry chief minister said at the end of the second day of the monsoon session of the assembly.
Declaring that 12 of the 14 identified as being involved in the incident had been arrested, Gogoi said "I take the responsibility and have taken action against erring police officials. The entire episode is disgusting", he said.
"I understand that Assam has the dubious distinction of being second state in the country in case of crime against women. This is worrying and for this reason, I want to probe into the social factor and asked data from the Tata Institute of Social sciences", he said.
The Assam government on Tuesday announced that a police commissioner would be appointed soon for Guwahati city.
"Law and order situation has been affected and so I feel that a police commissioner should be appointed for which I gave the orders today", the chief minister told reporters.
Stating that he was in favour of "long term policies", the chief minister said the post of police commissioner will effectively tackle the situation.
He announced that security has been tightened and bars and pubs in the city closely monitored and police patrolling increased.
Asked to comment on the prime accused Amarjyoti Kalita, a former government employee, being still at large, the chief minister said that government has "secret information about his whereabouts which cannot be divulged".
"He is moving from state to state but he will be caught soon", Gogoi said when asked whether Kalita was still in Bhubaneswar in Odisha as reported earlier.
Admitting there was a lack of adequate police force including women police, the chief minister said the government was trying to do the best and utilise the available resources.
On the challenge posed to police and district administration, the chief minister admitted that the pressure had increased. "Things have changed and we have to deal with the increasing pressure of population and crime", he said.
"Civil policing is necessary and I personally feel that the public should also be involved in combating social crimes", he said.
"Apart from the government and police, the society should also take responsibility and this will be a welcome sign", he said.
Admitting that it was a failure of the chief minister's public relation cell for having initially released the photograph of the victim, the chief minister said, "We immediately withdrew the release."
Stating that he personally met the victim, Gogoi promised that she would be suitably rehabilitated and provided safe custody.
"During my meeting she complained of having housing problems. I have promised her suitable and safe accommodation," he said.
Reiterating his allegation against a local TV channel which aired the footage of the incident, that the photo journalist had failed in his duty to inform the police, the chief minister said that the video was shown on the particular channel to hike their TRP.
"This is most condemnable and I do not approve of this. It is good that he has done his job as a journalist but it was his social responsibility to inform the police in which he has failed," he said.
"You cannot go on rolling your camera and shooting for more than 20 minutes on the hapless victim without informing the police," Gogoi added.
"If as a journalist you do not have guts then you do not deserve to be a journalist", he said
Asked to comment on the resignation of the editor-in-chief of the news channel after his allegation that the coverage of the incident was unethical, Gogoi said the particular channel "should have the guts to stand by its news".
"I deny putting any pressure on the news channel and I have never rang up their editors. Just resigning and blaming the government cannot be accepted," he said.