Businesses would have to pay us first: Assam student body

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

GUWAHATI - The influential All Assam Students Union (AASU) Wednesday admitted to accepting donations from business houses, and said it is not doing “anything wrong”.

“Yes, we have to depend on donations and we shall continue to take donations to run AASU. Whoever does business in Assam and reaps profits shall have to donate money for running AASU,” the student union’s adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya told journalists here.

AASU held a press conference here Wednesday a day after a newly floated students forum released phone conversations between a businessman and an AASU leader regarding monetary transaction.

Yes, I was the person who spoke in that audio tape and there is nothing wrong in accepting voluntary donations from business houses operating in Assam,” Bhattacharya said.

The Forum of Ex General Secretary Post Graduate Students Union of Guwahati University Tuesday released an audio tape where Bhattacharya was heard talking about receiving Rs.2 lakh from an official of Vishal Mega Mart shopping chain.

The AASU leader, however, accused Assam power minister Pradyut Bordoloi and former chief minister and leader of opposition party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Prafulla Kumar Mahanta of orchestrating the leak.

The persons who held the press conference against me were close to both the power minister and Mahanta,” he said.

AASU supporters Wednesday forced the closure of all five Vishal Mega Mart malls in the state. The malls are located in Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Tezpur, and Guwahati.

It was unethical on the part of Vishal Mega Mart to have tapped the phone in the first place. We had an understanding with Vishal for Rs.2 lakh donations annually, the AASU leader said.

We believe — and have no hesitation in saying — we had not done anything wrong by accepting donations to run a big organisation like AASU, he added.

AASU commands the support of an estimated 5 lakh students in the state. It spearheaded a violent six-year anti-outsider agitation in 1979.

It is active in raising issues of Bangladeshi migrants, mega dam projects, and corruption.

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