The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gogoi drops ‘secret-killing’ bombshell

Guwahati, Nov. 6: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today dropped a bombshell, saying a senior official had suggested “continuation of secret killings” to keep militant groups in check, but the proposal was rejected outright.

However, he declined to name the official.

Making the disclosure at a news conference here, the chief minister said the so-called secret killings dating back to the AGP-led alliance’s term in Dispur had been carried out with the connivance of the government.

Gogoi claimed his predecessor, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, admitted at a meeting of the AGP central executive committee that he had to “carry out orders from the Union government.”

However, Mahanta denies having made any such statement at the AGP meeting or encouraging killings — the victims were mostly family members of Ulfa members — to force militants on the defensive.

In a statement immediately after the Congress first made the allegation, the AGP leader dared the Gogoi government to make public the findings of the one-man commission of inquiry that probed the alleged secret killings during his tenure as chief minister.

Mahanta said all killings were “secret” till the identification of the killers, a statement Gogoi agreed with.

The chief minister, however, distinguished the cases referred to the one-man commission of inquiry from other killings, saying: “Those incidents had led to a public outburst as they were carried out with the connivance of the AGP-led government. This is an accusation by the people and organisations like the All Assam Students Union.”

The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, however, asked Gogoi to “stop the rhetoric” and instead, initiate steps to bring the culprits to book. It said the Congress government should keep its pre-poll promise of identifying the “secret killers” before making big statements.

The government entrusted the inquiry to Justice J.. Sharma after Justice Meera Sharma quit halfway through the probe.

Gogoi said his government instituted an inquiry into allegations of secret killings during Mahanta’s term in office as “there was a prima facie case”. He did not spare AGP president Brindaban Goswami either, saying he was guilty of “remaining a mute spectator to the connivance of the Mahanta government with those who carried out the secret killings”.

Dismissing Goswami’s contention that the inquiry into the secret killings should include those that were allegedly committed during the tenure of the previous Congress government, Gogoi dared the AGP chief to move the National Human Rights Commission or the Assam Human Rights Commission for their intervention. He asked Goswami to depose before the one-man commission if he wanted to establish that such killings had the sanction of the erstwhile Congress government.

Expressing regret over the death of five tea garden workers of Tinsukia in police firing on September 29, Gogoi said his government was planning to train the police to deal with mobs without causing loss of life.

The five victims were workers of Khobang tea estate. The police opened fire when the workers allegedly turned violent while protesting the management’s failure to pay bonus at the rate they wanted.

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