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Rahul aide questioned by Assam Police over yatra 'route deviation'

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Jorhat (Assam), Feb 10 (PTI) A "close aide" of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was questioned by Assam Police in Jorhat district on Saturday over his alleged role in deviation from the permitted route of the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' in the northeastern state last month, an officer said.

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KB Byju, a former SPG personnel and now a close aide of Gandhi, was questioned for over three hours, and he may be called again although no date has been fixed yet, the police officer said.

"The 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' had passed through Jorhat town on January 18, during which there were some problems and a case was registered at Jorhat Sadar police station. We had issued a notice to the accused in the case, and one of them was KB Byju, who appeared before us today," he said.

Bjyu reached the police station around 10.20 am and was there till 2 pm.

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"We have conducted our interrogation for now. If needed, we will call him again during the course of investigation," he said, adding no date has been fixed yet.

Besides Bjyu, several other Congress leaders, including state president Bhupen Kumar Borah and working president Rana Goswami, were named in the FIR for allegedly deviating from the yatra's permitted route in Jorhat town on January 18.

The case was lodged under nine sections, including non-bailable ones, such as 120B (criminal conspiracy), 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 188 (disobedience of order), 283 (causing danger, obstruction or injury), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 353 (criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty) of the Indian Penal Code.

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Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 for alleged mischief causing damage to public property has also been slapped in the FIR.

The police then issued notices to Byju, Borah, Goswami, Congress Jorhat district president Pratul Buragohain and district secretary Abhijit Phukan.

Borah had appeared for questioning on January 31 and has been called again on February 12, while Buragohain and Phukan have been quizzed earlier.

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A 'padayatra' (foot march), a part of the yatra, through Jorhat town had allegedly proceeded through a road without permission, causing "stampede-like situation", prompting the Jorhat Police to register the case.

Congress leaders had later claimed that the route deviation occurred due to "confusion" when the padayatra reached a tri-junction and there was no clear marking to the route they were to take.

The yatra had started its Assam leg on January 18 and concluded on January 25, covering 833 km across 17 districts.

The yatra, led by Gandhi, commenced from Manipur on January 14 and will culminate on March 20 in Mumbai.

It plans to cover 6,713 km in 67 days, passing through 110 districts in 15 states. PTI SSG ACD

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