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Panel seeks statements on Jorhat firing

Mariani Press Club president Jiban Chandra Dutta offers tribute at the memorial plaque of Sujit Nayak. File picture

Jorhat, Dec. 4: The one-man judicial commission probing the police firing at Hemlai subdivision near Mariani has asked all parties concerned to submit their written statements to the panel by December 19.

P.K. Das, secretary of the panel headed by retired Gauhati High Court judge P.K. Musahary, told reporters today that the commission has invited written statements on information relating to the incident from the state government, district administration and police, aggrieved persons, parties, organisations and members of public acquainted with the incident.

Das, also an additional deputy commissioner of Jorhat district, said the statements may be filed either individually or collectively by a group of persons by December 19 at his office within the deputy commissioner’s office complex.

The government had appointed Justice Musahary to inquire into the circumstances leading to the death of Sujit Nayak, a Class IX student and injury caused to a college student Rajib Nayak in police firing at Hemlai subdivision of Boishabi tea estate in the district on August 18.

Two policemen — N. Islam, then in-charge of Deberapara police outpost and constable Tileshwar Gogoi of First Assam Police Battalion — were also injured when a mob reportedly attacked a police team.

Islam was suspended subsequently and a departmental inquiry ordered by the district police. The police team had gone to rescue two youths, who were passing the area in a vehicle and detained by a crowd of tea workers suspecting them to be pisal bhoot (slippery ghost).

He said a statement should accompany the list of witnesses, a list of supporting documents with original or true copies and in case any documents are not present, the names and addresses of the persons from whom such documents could be obtained. Das said the statements should preferably be accompanied by an affidavit.

Das said Justice Musahary would arrive here on December 19 and subsequently go through the written statements, and in due course shall fix and notify the places, dates and time of the panel sitting for hearing/recording of evidences in exercise of powers conferred on it under Section 8 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952.

The terms of reference of the inquiry panel includes all aspects leading to the firing, including any lapses on the part of the civil and police administration in tackling the situation and to fix responsibility.

The firing had led to massive protests by workers, several organisations and Mariani Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi demanding stern action against the police personnel involved in the death of the student.

The Assam Human Rights Commission, too, had ordered Upper Assam commissioner S.I. Hussain to probe the incident and submit the report within month.

Hussain has conducted his probe and submitted his report to the rights commission.

The Jorhat district administration, too, ordered a magisterial inquiry in the incident, which was submitted within a week and subsequently sent to Dispur. The government had paid Rs 5 lakh compensation to the victim’s family.