Guwahati: Jagadish Bhuyan is a relieved man. The BJP leader was the vice-president of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) when five leaders of the apex students’ body in Assam were picked up and killed by the Army in Tinsukia district in 1994, in what has since come to be known as the ‘Dangari fake encounter’ case.
Seven military personnel, including four Army officers, were sentenced to life imprisonment by an Army court on Sunday in this connection.
Bhuyan, who relentlessly pursued the legal battle against the extra-judicial killings, for 24-odd years, has upheld his faith in the judiciary system and for holding the guilty responsible for the crime.
Narrating the incident, Bhyuan told EastMojo: "Army personnel picked up nine AASU leaders on February 18, 1994, on the suspicion of killing a tea garden official. “On February 19, I got information about the detention of the AASU leaders and contacted the then SP and other officials to look for the students. When I filed a PIL in the Gauhati High Court on February 22 that year, the court ordered the Army to produce the detained persons to the nearest magistrate. The Army then produced five bodies at the Dhola police station saying they were killed in an encounter.”
Since then, Bhyuan had been pursuing the case in the Gauhati High Court and then in the Supreme Court. The high court ordered a CBI enquiry into the case and subsequently the charges were proven. However, the Army then moved the SC, which upheld the high court’s order.
Court martial proceedings started in July 16 this year after the CBI inquiry indicted the Army personnel for the extra-judicial killings.
Bhuyan, who was then the AASU vice-president, also said this judgment would strengthen people’s belief in the judiciary. "Also, people across the Northeast, whose near and dear ones have fallen victim to extrajudicial killings, would be encouraged to pursue their cases,” he added.