Army asked to pay compensation for torture of innocents in Assam

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today welcomed the order of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that directed the Ministry of Defence, Government of India to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 each to two torture victims, namely Bhadrakanta Baruah and Ghana Neog who were tortured in the custody of the 871st Field Regiment of the Army at Maibela camp in Sivasagar district, Assam on 31st January 2009.

On 6 March 2009, the ACHR filed a complaint alleging that the army personnel picked up Bhadrakanta Baruah, son of Late Yogaram Baruah on the night of 31 January 2009 and tortured in their custody at the Maibela Base Army camp on the suspicion of having links with the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). The Commission registered ACHR's complaint and directed the Secretary, Ministry of Defence and the Superintendent of Police, Sivsagar, Assam to submit their reports.

Replying to a show cause notice from the NHRC the Ministry of Defence vide letter dated 15 February 2010 denied that the victims were tortured and claimed that they have confessed to having provided shelter to the ULFA cadres. However, in his reply vide letter dated 27 April 2009 the Superintendent of Police of Sivasagar had informed the NHRC that immediately after Bhadrakanta Baruah and Ghana Neog were handed over to the police on 1 February 2009 at 1245 hrs by the army, they were medically examined and the doctor opined that both of them had “received simple injuries caused by blunt object.” Detailed investigation by police did not reveal any link of the victims with ULFA and they were released on the same day. Both the victims were farmers.

In its order delivered on 4 March 2010 the NHRC concluded that following:

“During the investigation by the police, victims were not found having any link with ULFA and were released on the same day. This negates the claim of the Ministry of Defence that they confessed before the Army personnel that they had given shelter to the militants. These two persons remained in the custody of Army for three hours and immediately after they were produced before the police they were got medically examined which disclosed the injuries mentioned above which were caused by blunt object. Even though the injuries have been opined by the doctor as simple, yet they are suggestive of torture during the interrogation by the Army personnel. Hence, prima-facie, a case of violation of human rights is made out and the Govt. of India cannot escape its liability to compensate them monetarily. Consequently, the Commission recommends to the Govt. of India, through Defence Secretary, to pay compensation of Rs. 50,000/- reach to the two victims”.

 “This is another example as to how the Army have been submitting false and concocted reports to shield the guilty security personnel.”
- stated Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights. [Ends]

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