Gauhati HC Directs Centre To Compensate Kin of 1994 Dangari Fake Encounter

The deceased were identified as Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal and Bhaben Moran.
Gauhati HC Allows Compensation to Kin of 1994 Dangari Fake Encounter
Gauhati HC Allows Compensation to Kin of 1994 Dangari Fake EncounterRepresentative

The Gauhati High Court on Thursday directed the Central government to give compensation of Rs. 20 lakhs to kin of the victims in the 1994 Dangari Fake Encounter case.

At least five innocent youths were killed by Army personnel from 18 Punjab Regiment based at Tinsukia’s Dhola camp branding them as United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

After 29 years, the family of the five martyrs got justice as the court allowed to pay them compensation.

The fake encounter in which five innocent youths were killed mercilessly was part of a chain of events that started with the murder of general manager, identified as Rameswar Singh, of Assam Frontier Tea Limited at Talap Tea Estate in Dangari area of Tinsukia district by ULFA militants in February 1994.

In connection to the manager’s killing, the army personnel detained as many as nine All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) activists from different places in the district as suspects from February 17-19, 1994 in Dhola.

Out of the nine activists, five were gunned down at Dibru-Saikhowa Reserve Forest.

When there was no information regarding their whereabouts, the then AASU Vice President Jagadish Bhuyan filed a habeas corpus petition in Gauhati High Court seeking their intervention.

Bhuyan was quoted by The Hindu, “On February 21, the local police confirmed that the boys were being detained at the Dhola camp. Fearing for their lives, I filed a habeas corpus in the Gauhati High Court on February 22. That afternoon, Chief Justice S.N. Phukan and Justice A.K. Pattnaik ordered the Army to produce the arrested youth before a magistrate.”

Based on the writ petition, the Gauhati High Court ordered the army to produce the men at the nearest police station.

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The army produced five bodies at Dhola Police Station and branded them as ULFA cadres, which was followed by statewide protests.

The deceased were identified as Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal and Bhaben Moran.

The case was then handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the investigating agency filed a chargesheet for seven army personnel involved in the fake encounter.

The Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) had in October 2018 sentenced the seven army personnel to life imprisonment.

Those found guilty were Major General A K Lal, Colonels Thomas Mathew and R S Sibiren and Junior Commissioned Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers Dilip Singh, Jagdeo Singh, Albinder Singh and Shivendar Singh.

Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was the then President of AASU, hailed the verdict by the court martial.

He was quoted by PTI saying, “It is a welcome judgement. The judgement will strengthen people’s faith in judiciary and the Army.”

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