NEW DELHI, March 12 � In a setback for the Tarun Gogoi Government on the human rights front, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Assam Government to pay Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the victims of a joint operation by Army and police in 2009. The State Government has been asked to submit proof of payment by April 17.
In a landmark verdict, the Commission has held that the Government of Assam has no explanation to offer to its various observations, raising doubts about the genuineness of the encounter. The order was passed by a Division Bench comprising NHRC Members, Justices D Murugesan and Satyabrata Pal.
The State Government has been asked to pay the next of kin of Munindra Kalita (26 years) and Pingal Deka (27 years), who were killed in an encounter with the Assam Police and the Army during a joint operation, further directing that proof of payment be supplied on or before April 17.
The Commission had taken suo moto cognizance of the incident and registered a case (No 209/3/1/2011-ED), on the basis of information given on the website of the Assam Police that two ULFA extremists were killed in an encounter at Na-Satra, under Sarthebari Police Station in Barpeta district on July 10, 2009.
The Commission, during the course of inquiry, did not find the inquiry conducted by the magistrate helpful, and observed that he had not taken the trouble to examine the witness evidence to check the police claim that the entire village was cordoned off before the encounter. No forensic laboratory test was done to establish the scientific evidence to sustain that the encounter was genuine and took place, as alleged by the police.
The post-mortem report conclusively demolished the case made out by the police and contrary to their claims of encounter from a distance, it was found that both the men were shot at contact range, the NHRC order said.