DOOMDOOMA, Aug 4 - At last, the families of the five victims of the Dangari encounter case that took place in February, 1994 are going to get justice after a long wait of 24 years. The Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) of the infamous Dangari Army encounter in which five youths namely Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal and Bhaben Moran were brutally killed, concluded on July 27. The SGCM had begun on July 16 at Laipuli Army Camp under the HQ of 2 Mountain Division. CBI (vide FIR No. RC - 4/S/2000-CAL) charge-sheeted the guilty Army personnel after the survivors and witnesses deposed their statements.
It can be mentioned here that the Dholla-based 18 Punjab Regiment of the Indian Army had picked up nine persons � AASU leader Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal, Bhaben Moran, Matheswar Moran, Gunin Hazarika, Prakash Sharma and Manoranjan Das from different locations of Doomdooma circle in Tinsukia district between February 17 to 19, 1994 and detained them at the Dholla Army Camp following the killing of Rameswar Singh, the general manager of the Assam Frontier Tea Limited at Talap Tea Estate by ULFA militants.
Following a habeas corpus filed by then AGP leader Jagadish Bhuyan, the Gauhati High Court ordered the Army to produce the nine persons at the nearest police station on February 21, 1994. After that, the Army left five bodies, identified as those of Prabin Sonowal, Pradip Dutta, Debajit Biswas, Akhil Sonowal and Bhaben Moran at the Doomdooma Police Station on February 22 after the Dholla PS refused to accept the bodies. The remaining four persons were released at different locations. The Army reportedly took the five youths in two boats to the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park after crossing the Dangari river and allegedly killed them in a fake encounter. The two boatmen � Moka Murah and Ratna Moran also went missing since then.
There was a state-wide uproar following the incident. The then AASU president Sarbananda Sonowal, secretary Samujjal Bhattacharya, former AASU leaders Atul Borah and Keshav Mahanta and others staged protests demanding adequate compensation for the victim�s families. AASU declared them as �Pancha Swahid�.
In 2001, the Gauhati High Court directed the government to pay Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the slain persons. But, even after 24 years of the incident, the government failed to honour the court�s order even after Sarbananda Sonowal himself is now heading the government.
Motheswar Moran, one of the survivors of the incident who gave his statement before the SGCM, told this correspondent that the Army picked up the youths based on the entry record of Talap Tea Estate as most of them were engaged as garden suppliers. Though he was very hopeful of getting justice, he was living in constant fear of his life. He, along with the other two survivors Gunin Hazarika and Prakash Sharma, want the government and the Army should ensure their safety in future. The other survivor Manoranjan Das has already passed away.
Meanwhile, the Tinsukia district AASU general secretary Samarjyoti Gohain has expressed deep anguish over the delay in providing justice to the families. He demanded stringent punishment to all the guilty Army personnel and suitable compensation for all the nine families.