A Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) of the Indian Army has convicted seven personnel, including a Major General, in a 24-year-old fake encounter case, sentencing them to life in prison.
Sources in an Indian Army unit based in Dibrugarh confirmed this on Sunday and said that Major General AK Lal, Colonel Thomas Mathew, Colonel RS Sibiren, Captain Dilip Singh, Captain Jagdeo Singh, Naik Albindar Singh, and Naik Shivendar Singh have been awarded life imprisonment for their involvement in a fake encounter case in Assam’s Tinsukia district dating back to 1994.
Former Assam Minister and BJP leader Jagadish Bhuyan said that nine youths were picked up by the Army from different areas of Tinsukia district on February 18, 1994 on suspicion that they were involved in the killing of a top tea garden executive.
The soldiers killed five of the youths in a fake encounter, branding them as ULFA militants a few days after the incident, while releasing the other four.
Bhuyan had filed a Habeas Corpus petition in the Gauhati High Court on February 22 the same year, seeking the whereabouts of the youths. The High court asked the Indian Army to produce the nine AASU (All Assam Students Union) leaders at the nearest police station. The Army produced five bodies at the Dholla Police Station.
The court-martial process began on July 16 this year and concluded on July 27. The quantum of punishment was pronounced on Saturday, sources in the Indian Army said on Sunday.
Bhuyan expressed happiness over the verdict. “I strongly believe in our judicial system, democracy and discipline and neutrality of the Indian Army,” said Bhuyan.