NEW DELHI, March 15 – The Ministry of Defence is yet to comply with the direction of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to pay compensation of Rs 50,000 each to two torture victims, who were allegedly tortured by the Army in Sivasagar district in January last year.The two victims identified as Bhadrakanta Baruah and Ghana Neog, were tortured in the custody of the 871st Field Regiment of the Army at Maibela camp in Sivasagar district, on January 31, 2009.
Asian Commission for Human Rights (ACHR) on March 6, last year filed a complaint alleging that the army personnel picked up Bhadrakanta Baruah on the night of January 31 and tortured him in their custody at the Maibela Base Army camp on the suspicion of having links with the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA). The Commission registered ACHR’s complaint and directed the Secretary, Ministry of Defence and the Superintendent of Police, Sivasagar, Assam to submit their reports.
The Ministry of Defence denied that the victims were tortured and claimed that they had confessed to having provided shelter to ULFA cadres. However, in his reply, the Superintendent of Police of Sivasagar had informed the NHRC that immediately after Bhadrakanta Baruah and Ghana Neog were handed over to the police on February 1 by the army, they were medically examined and the doctor opined that both of them had “received simple injuries caused by blunt object.”
Detailed investigation by police did not reveal any link of the victims with ULFA and they were released on the same day. Both the victims were farmers.
The NHRC concluded that “prima-facie, a case of violation of human rights is made out and the Government of India cannot escape its liability to compensate them monetarily. Consequently, the Commission recommends to the Government of India, through Defence Secretary, to pay compensation of Rs. 50,000 each to the two victims”.