Assam Rifles caught a bunch of boys returning after collecting payment from a merchant and shot one in cold blood. TEHELKA’s version of this episode has now been validated
ON 23-24 JULY 2010, local media in Assam reported the death of a hardcore Reang militant at the hands of the Assam Rifles in Gutguti village of Hailakandi district. The suspected militant was identified as Jatan Kumar Reang, 17. Reports also stated that three other tribal militants were nabbed with firearms.
After much hue and cry by the locals, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) lodged a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which asked the Assam Police for a report. Seven months later, the police report, the post-mortem report, a report sent to the NCPCR and other classified documents in possession of TEHELKA painted a different picture.
The TEHELKA exposé (Assam Rifles under fire for killing an innocent bamboo cutter, by Ratnadip Choudhury, 26 February) had said that Koya Ram Reang’s complaint that his son Jatan was killed in cold blood was true. He had lodged an FIR in the Katlicherra police station. On 8 September 2010, the police sent a report to the NCPCR, a copy of which is available with TEHELKA. The report is based on the probes of two cases lodged in Katlicherra police station (148/2010 U/S 35 Arms Act and 149/2010 U/S 302 IPC).
Now, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has come up with a stern indictment, which gives a reassuring message that truth always prevails. The Deputy Registrar (Law) of the NHRC has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to pay a compensation of 5 lakh to Jatan’s next of kin and asked for immediate start of criminal proceedings in this case. In its directive, the NHRC has stated, “The report clearly reveals that the boys were returning home from Ghamurach after receiving payment from bamboo merchant Tuta Mia. Around 10.30 pm, when they reached the nullah below Gutguti border outpost manned by personnel of the 6th AP Battalion, they were asked to stop by the Assam Rifles jawans lying in ambush. As per the report, one jawan fired at Jatan Reang and injured him on his right thigh.”
The NHRC says it was the duty of the Assam Rifles personnel to immediately tell the police about the incident and take the boy to a hospital. Instead, they boarded a vehicle at Agrem with the bleeding Jatan and started for Damcherra, Tripura, for treatment. The boy succumbed to his injuries around 3 am on 22 July 2010 after crossing Chowhel Basti of Mizoram.
The police was informed at 7 am the next day and handed over the body. They were also given two handmade guns with other articles stated to be recovered during search from surrounding areas.
“Thus, the aforesaid aspects are required to be taken into consideration to come to a conclusion whether there is any violation of human rights or not,” wrote the NHRC. “The commission, while considering the aforesaid aspects of the case, prima facie, came to the conclusion that there is a serious case of violation of human rights.”
After the story was broken by TEHELKA, Assam Rifles had gone on record to rubbish it as ‘baseless’. The NHRC directive now nails this lie.
It was the New Delhi-based ACHR that brought the case to the notice of NHRC by lodging a formal complaint and following it up. “The findings are clear-cut and once the NHRC has also found that the report is true, it becomes a clear case of prosecution against the guilty. Now it is up to the Assam Police to follow the directive,” says ACHR Director Suhas Chakma.