A summary general court martial of the Army has recommended life imprisonment for seven personnel, including a major general, for murdering five student activists in Dangari in Assam’s Tinsukia district in February 1994, a senior Army official based in Guwahati told Scroll.in on Sunday. The verdict now needs to be confirmed by a “competent authority”, said a defence public relations officer.
The court martial proceedings began on July 16 at Laipuli Army Camp in the headquarters of Second Mountain Division and concluded 11 days later, reported Time 8.
In 1994, the Dholla-based 18 Punjab Regiment picked up All Assam Students’ Union leaders Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal, Bhaben Moran, Matheswar Moran, Gunin Hazarika, Prakash Sharma and Manoranjan Das from different places in Doomdooma in Tinsukia between February 17 and 19, following the murder of a tea estate executive. Militants belonging to the United Liberation Front of Assam are believed to have carried out the murder.
The Army personnel reportedly took Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal and Bhaben Moran near the Dangari river and gunned them down in a fake encounter. The Gauhati High Court, which heard a habeas corpus petition filed by a leader of the students’ union, ordered the Army to produce the nine activist at the nearest police station. However, the Army brought the bodies of the five activists, triggering statewide protests.
The Central Bureau of Investigation then investigated the case and filed a chargesheet against the Army personnel accused in the case. The Army personnel are Major General AK Lal, Colonel Thomas Mathew, Colonel RS Sibiren, Captain Dilip Singh, Captain Jagdeo Singh, Naik Albindar Singh and Naik Shivendar Singh.