The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rap on secret killings

New Delhi, March 24: The ghost of secret killings is back to haunt Assam, at a time when the Assembly polls are knocking on the door.

The Supreme Court today directed the Centre, the Assam government, former state chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and others to respond within six weeks to allegations that secret killings were carried out during counter-insurgency operations in the state during the AGP’s tenure.

A bench comprising Justices A.R. Lakshmanan and H.K. Sema sought an early response to the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Aalok, a non-governmental organisation. The court took note of the fact that it was a sensitive matter.

It had issued a notice on the petition on February 16.

The bench rejected a plea by Delhi, Dispur and Mahanta, seeking three months’ time to respond to the PIL. The suit has alleged that hundreds of innocent Assamese people were secretly killed on the pretext of liquidating Ulfa militants.

Aalok general secretary Saurov Barua said he had sought police protection from the Assam government following threats to his life.

The NGO claimed to have compiled a list of 265 innocent people killed in the state from 1998 to 2001.

Aalok has alleged that Mahanta, the then chief minister, had admitted at a party meeting earlier this year that the state government had carried out the secret killings on the instructions of the Union home ministry. The NGO has attached a newspaper report in this regard to buttress its claims.

The NGO submitted to the court that inquiries by various commissions appointed by the Assam government were not serving the purpose owing to non-cooperation by local police, army and government officials.

In its PIL to the court, Aalok sought a CBI probe. It pointed out that the kin of several innocent people killed in Punjab during the Khalistan movement had received compensation following intervention by the apex court, which had ordered a CBI probe.

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