Army told to probe officer role

Guwahati, May 12 : Gauhati High Court today directed the army to initiate proceedings against one of its officers, Sartaj Mehta, in connection with the killing of two persons in army custody in Darrang district in 2004.
The court also directed the army to pay compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the family members of the two men.
Mehta was serving as a lieutenant when the incident took place.
The order was passed by a division bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Hrishikesh Roy.
“After examining the evidences and relevant documents, the court found the army’s version that the duo were killed in an encounter as improbable and directed the army to initiate appropriate proceedings against Mehta under Section 302 IPC and other relevant provisions in the Army Act,” said Bijon Kumar Mahajan and Arshad Choudhury, advocates for the petitioners.
A college student and a farmer, both with the same name Pratul Daimary, were picked up by army personnel of 62 Field regiment on suspicion of being linkmen of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) on March 7, 2004. Their bullet-riddled bodies were handed over to local police a day later.
The army claimed that the duo had links with the militant group and were taken to the army camp for questioning. They had apparently agreed to show the armymen where they had hidden their arms. According to the army, on reaching the spot, the student allegedly tried to escape by firing at the army men forcing them to open fire in which the two were killed.
The families of the “victims”, however, said the two were killed in a fake encounter and they had nothing to do with any militant outfit.
Following the killing, the families of the duo filed a petition in the high court seeking action against the persons responsible for the killing and adequate compensation for killing them in the “fake” encounter.
One of the deceased was studying in Amiya Kumar Das College at Dhekiajuli while the other was a farmer, with a wife and three children.

The court verdict went in favour of the petitioners, as there were many contradictions in the army’s version regarding the “encounter”.