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AC, Teddy Bears, Rocking Chairs: Inside a Special Cell at An Assam Police Station

Azara police station's special cell.

Azara police station's special cell.

The first phase of the Mission of Overall Improvement of Thana for Responsive Image, or MOITRI, scheme kicked off in December 2017, with 73 police stations earmarked to be renovated in two batches of 39 and 34 each. The scheme aims to build an amicable relationship between the public and police.

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Niloy Bhattacherjee

Keeping one of the prime accused in the Joint Entrance Examination (Mains) scam of Assam in custody was a big concern for the Azara police. Kakoli Buzarbaruah was sent in five days of police custody by the chief judicial magistrate of Kamrup Metro district as an accomplice in the scam that shook the nation. However, the Azara police, which took custody of Kakoli for interrogation into the case, confronted the issue of keeping the mother with her eight-month-old breastfed girl in lockup.

Kakoli Buzabaruah, who was working as a counsellor in Guwahati-based coaching institute Global Edu Light, was arrested on October 31. She was produced before the chief judicial magistrate of Kamrup Metro with her baby. As the eight-month-old girl was totally dependent on her mother, Kakoli went to custody with the child.

Though yet to be formally inaugurated, the Azara police station has a newly built cell with a difference. Unlike normal lockups, this room is air-conditioned, has a cushioned bed, tiled floor and an attached modern bathroom. The special cell has toys, teddy bears, rocking chairs and a cabinet to keep belongings. The windows have curtains, and there are women police constables guarding the cell round the clock.

Kakoli Buzarbaruah is possibly the first inmate to be lodged in the specially constructed women-and-children cell of Assam police. The baby and Kakoli's stay in the cell has reportedly been a comfortable one though the accused has been interrogated round the clock to fish out leads into the JEE scam.

The first phase of the Mission of Overall Improvement of Thana for Responsive Image, or MOITRI, scheme kicked off in December 2017, with 73 police stations earmarked to be renovated in two batches of 39 and 34 each. The scheme aims to build an amicable relationship between the public and police. Under the project, the state government plans to reconstruct 346 police stations with an investment of Rs 2 crore each, within a period of five years.

The main motive of the scheme is to convert and remodel all police stations in such a way that the distance between the common people and the police force is abridged.

“The Child Line earlier developed Child Friendly Police Corner in Bharalumukh thana of Guwahati on an experimental basis. Later, Assam police came up with project MOITRI. Constructed under this project, the women-and-child cell provides a friendly ambience to children who are brought under various criminal procedures at the police station. The proposal was the offshoot of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPRC) recommendation,” says Gumur Brahma, official of Child Rights Assam.

Seven people have been arrested, including the candidate, his father, two TCS employees and an invigilator, in connection with the JEE scam. The scam came to light following a recorded phone conversation that went viral, where the candidate had admitted to his friend that a proxy was used for appearing in the exam held on September 5.

Subsequently, an FIR was filed by a person named Mitradev Sharma on October 23, alleging that the candidate who scored 99.8 per cent in the JEE (Mains) did not take the test, but used a proxy to do so on his behalf.

The complainant had also alleged that the parents of the candidate, both of whom are practising doctors, had paid a sum of ₹15-20 lakh to a private coaching institute in Guwahati to help their son in the examination.

Five of the arrested whose five days' police custody ended on Tuesday were produced in the chief judicial magistrate (Kamrup Metro) court where the police have sought an extension of custody of one TCS employee .


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