Several tribal organisations and social activists of Assam have demanded death penalty for the accused involved in the alleged rape and murder of 12-year-old tribal girl, Sumila Ronghangpi at Raha in Nagaon district.

The demand for death penalty to the rape and murder accused was raised by Assam unit of All India Tribal Students’ Students’ Association, Kundiyo Mission Society, Assam unit of Deori Peoples Justice Forum and tribal social & legal activist Raju Deuri.

While addressing a press conference in Guwahati on Wednesday the organisations and tribal activists alleged that Sumila Ronghangpi was murdered at Raha in Nagaon district on April 22, 2021 after abusing her physically, mentally and sexually.

Sumila Ronghangpi was a resident of Kudam Ronghang Arong under Boithalangso police station in West Karbi Anglong district.

They said the minor girl’s parents dropped her in the residence of Paresh Borthakur in 2018 with a faith that she could be treated as a daughter by Borthakur and provide her education.

Paresh Borthakur is a resident of Khaigor village in Nagaon’s Raha area.

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“The ignorant minor tribal girl has been physically, mentally, sexually assaulted several times. But she could not contact her parents and relatives and express her grievance because she was stopped talking to them,” activist Raju Deuri, an advocate, told reporters.

He said, “Her parents are illiterate having communication and language problems, and reside at a remote village in West Karbi Anglong. Since last year, the parents and her brother had been requesting to take her back to her home but Borthakur refused and did not allow them to take.”

“Surprisingly, the brother of late Ronghangpi called up Borthakur and requested him to allow his sister to come home, just one day before the incident,” Deuri claimed.

He said, “On April 22, 2021, the tragic incident occurred at the residence of a non-tribal perpetrator, Prakesh Borthakur and his son Nayanivoti Borthakur. She was set on fire.”

Claiming that the minor girl was pregnant, Deuri said, “She was burnt to death to destroy the proof that she had been raped.”

Later, Borthakur and his family claimed that the girl committed suicide.

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Demanding death penalty to the accused the tribal groups said the law enforcing agencies including the police and district administrations should hold various review meetings, awareness programmes and workshops to sensitise about the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act 1989.

They said only through implementation of such Act, justice may be delivered to the atrocity victims from the tribal communities in Assam.

Activist Deuri said as per the Section 6 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Rules 1995, officers of the rank of DC/SDO/Executive Magistrate/SP/DSP should visit the spot immediately after being informed about such incident to assess the extent of atrocity, loss of life and damage to property and submit a report to the state government.

He said there have been numerous instances of violations of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act 1989 and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Rules 1995 in Assam.

“Violations of the provisions of such existing law, framed to protect the tribal communities, are going on in Assam due to negligence and ignorance on the part of the law-enforcing agencies including police,” he said.

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The organisations said the NGOs and tribal social activists should be encouraged to organise awareness camps, workshops, seminars and educate the people belong to the SC & ST communities about their rights and other measures to protect them.

“The relief/compensation or rehabilitation must be provided to the next kin of the victim’s family/dependants as per the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act,” the leaders of the organisations said.

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