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Fresh trial for rifleman

Imphal, Oct. 6: The Assam Rifles will begin a fresh court martial for rifleman Md Hyder Ali, who is being tried for “indiscipline” and use of “criminal force” on a senior officer, in a few days.

Assam Rifles spokesperson in Manipur Col L.M. Pant today said orders had been issued to shift Ali to a new location to give him and his lawyer a fair chance of defence as nobody knows him there.

Col Pant said Assam Rifles inspector-general (South) Maj. Gen. B.K. Chengapa had given orders on September 24 to shift the 13 Battalion rifleman from the 19 battalion camp at Somsai in Ukhrul district, where he is under detention, to the 21 Battalion camp at Kakching in Thoubal district.

Col Pant, however, did not say whether Ali had already been shifted to the new location or what the exact date for starting the fresh trial was.

He said Ali had been charged with “using criminal force” against the officiating commanding officer of his battalion and with an attempt to take away “objectionable” documents without permission while going on leave in January this year.

The rifleman has been under detention since then for alleged indiscipline, including writing to former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, central leaders and the media about service conditions. The document contained the signatures of more than 1,000 personnel of the paramilitary force.

Col Pant said the army court of inquiry found Ali prima facie guilty of the charges and the first court martial began on August 11 inside the 19 Assam Rifles unit. The trial was subsequently dissolved on “technical” grounds, but the details were not disclosed.

Ali, who hails from Bihar, had joined the Assam Rifles as a rifleman in 1987.

He was dismissed from service in April 1997 following a court martial for “disobedience”, but was reinstated in 2004 following a court’s order.

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