The Supreme Court issued a notice on Monday to the Union of India and the State of Assam in connection with allegations of a fake encounter carried out in Chirang district of Assam by a joint team of the Army, Assam Police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) on March 30, 2017.
A report carried out in the The Indian Express stated that on May 24 last year CRPF Inspector General (IG) Rajnish Rai had sent a report to his headquarters and written to the chiefs of all the forces exposing how the “encounter was staged”.
In his report sent to CRPF headquarters in Delhi, Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rajnish Rai, then posted in Shillong with CRPF as IG, North East Sector, had alleged that the encounter — near Simlaguri village under Amguri police station — that led to the death of two suspected members of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit faction), or NDFB(S) faction, was “staged”. And that the two men were picked up from a house in D-Kalling village and “killed in cold blood” in Simlaguri.
Calling for a full-fledged investigation, Rai had alleged that weapons were planted on their bodies. The two killed were identified as Lucas Narzary alias N Langfa and David Islary alias Dayud. He said he had witnesses who have identified the bodies as those of the two men who were picked up and that these witnesses are in his “safe custody”.
The report further stated that interviews of witnesses by media persons had “corroborated” Rai’s report. The notices have been issued in response to a petition filed by the former Power Secretary EAS Sarma, whose public interest litigation (PIL) had moved the Supreme Court to declare Salwa Judum “unconstitutional”.
The petition has prayed that the alleged fake encounter be thoroughly investigated and compensation be paid to the families of the victims. The petition is based on an application filed by Rajnish Rai in Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) where he has raised doubts over the role played by the CRPF in two encounters carried by security forces in Assam and called the third one, carried out in Chirang, to be “fake”.
HRLN’s Colin Gonsalves, who is representing Sarma in court, said, “This is not just about a fake encounter, but a systemic failure. As pointed out by Rai, it is important to note that three different forces came together with the uniformed strategy to execute it. The confidence with which the younger officers lied about the encounters is a sign of degeneration of the system. Since Independence we haven’t had a police officer of IG rank come out on such large-scale criminality in the police force. One should not underestimate the historic importance of the disclosure made by him. It stands apart from all other cases.”
Gonsalves added that he would also seek directions from court on “systemic failures”. Rai’s report, dated April 17, 2017, was marked to Assam Chief Secretary V K Pipersenia; the then acting CRPF Director General (DG) Sudeep Lakhtakia; Lt Gen AS Bedi, GOC, 4 Corps and Chairperson, Operational Group, Unified Command; Assam DG Mukesh Sahay; SSB DG Archana Ramasundaram and CRPF Additional Director General (ADG) (NE Zone) Mohd Javed Akhtar.
After Rai blew the lid off the ‘fake encounter’, he was summarily transferred to Andhra Pradesh in a training centre which is yet to begin functioning. The Home Ministry has initiated an inquiry against the officer for conducting a probe into the encounter.