A district court gave its final judgment 15 years after a blast killed 18 people in Assam’s Dhemaji district in 2004 Credit: Representational image

Guwahati: A special Dhemaji district session judge court sentenced four convicts to life imprisonment and sent two others to four-year jail terms in connection with the 2004 Dhemaji blast case, on Thursday. Eight others were acquitted.

At least 18 people, mostly school children, were killed in a blast allegedly triggered by ULFA(I) during the Independence Day celebrations in Assam’s Dhemaji district on August 15, 2004.

As per reports, the court sentenced four convicts — Muhi Handique, Jatin Duwari, Dipanjali Gohain and Lila Gogoi alias Lila Khanok — to life imprisonment and pronounced four-year jail terms to two others — Prashanta Bhuyan and Hemen Gogoi — along with a fine of Rs 5,000.

Eight other accused — Jaya Chutia, Min Baruah, Jiten Chutia, Apsara Baruah, Gobin Kalita, Jai Chandra Chutia, Chandranath Gogoi and Mohan Chutia — were acquitted as they were not found guilty in connection to the case. The district session court read out the charges on the accused framed under Sections 120/ 120B/ 121A/ 122/ 302/ 326 of the Indian Penal Code.

The final verdict of the district court came after rigorous hearings for the last 15 years since the blast took place in 2004.

ULFA(I) militants planted the bomb at the entrance gate of Dhemaji College and triggered it off by a remote-controlled device while students and teachers of various schools were passing through the gate.

Soon after the explosion, angry locals allegedly attacked police vehicles present at the site for security failure in organising the Independence Day parade. Moreover police had to lathicharge and fire tear gas shells to disperse the irate mob and bring the situation under control.

Later, ULFA(I) commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah sought apology for taking the lives of 18 innocent school children five years after the tragic incident, in 2009. The then ULFA chairman, Arabinda Rajkhowa, also visited the victims’ families to seek forgiveness after his release from jail on bail.

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