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Custodial death again

The incident of an alleged custodial death of a youth from a village near Barholla under Ti-tabor subdivision in Jorhat

Jayanta Bora

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  17 Jun 2020 4:12 AM GMT

The incident of an alleged custodial death of a youth from a village near Barholla under Ti-tabor subdivision in Jorhat district has brought to fore the fact that security forces – in this case the Army – have failed to learn a lesson from their past mistakes. In the instant case, Jayanta Bora (30), an ex-Army jawan's son of village Kakodonga Habigaon in Titabor, was picked up from his house by a combined team of Army personnel and police officers Sunday midnight. Early next morning, the local police informed his widowed mother that her son had died in a hospital. As the incident evoked loud protests, the government has placed under suspension three police personnel including the Titabor Sub-Divisional Police Officer who is a DySP, while a magisterial probe has been also ordered. Such have been the reactions that the State government was prompted to urgently convene a meeting of the Unified Command on Tuesday, with a senior Army officer announcing that the Army too was instituting an inquiry into it. The Assam Police DG, meanwhile, was heard saying that there were photographs showing the deceased holding weapons, indicating that the youth had militant links. But then, the basic question is: What did the Army and police personnel do to Jayanta Bora that he died in the process? There was a time when midnight knocks, custodial tortures, custodial deaths, fake encounters and disappearance from custody were common in Assam. But then, thanks to the people's disillusionment and prolonged counter-insurgency operations, the ULFA and other militant groups have gradually become history. What is left of militancy in Assam now is nothing but a bunch of few individuals sitting somewhere in China or Myanmar running an arms bazaar and trying to lure some unemployed simpletons for exchange of money, with a handful of self-styled intellectuals extending support to them. This handful of persons, however, has some nuisance value, and Jayanta Bora of Titabor can be summarily stated to be a victim of circumstances, with security forces having definitely crossed all limits during interrogation. What Army and police officers have probably forgotten is to do their homework properly. They have apparently failed in following the basic ground rule that a magistrate, or at least a gaonbura must be present when a person is picked up under Counter-Insurgency operations. The Barholla incident has occurred at a time when the memory is still fresh of a significant General Court Martial of the Army in October 2018 which had sentenced seven Army personnel including one Major General AK Lal to life imprisonment for their alleged involvement in a fake encounter case in which five innocent youths were killed near Doomdooma in 1994.

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