| Asha Guha Niyogi, widow of trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi, with a photograph of her husband after he was killed.
Jalpaiguri, Jan. 20: The family of slain trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi is in despair after the Supreme Court today acquitted five persons accused of his murder and sentenced to life imprisonment his assailant Paltan Mallah.
'The main conspirators were released by the court today. It is indeed a matter of despair for us that those who plotted the killing and appointed Mallah to execute the task were released by court today,' said Swaraj Guha Niyogi, Shankar's younger brother, on phone from Delhi.
The family is waiting to come together before deciding on their course of action. Shankar's wife Asha and their three children ' daughters Kranti and Mukti and son Jeet ' stay in Dalli-Rajhara in Chhattisgarh. 'They will soon come to Delhi. We have informed them about the verdict. We will then sit and decide whether to go on appeal,' Swaraj added.
Shankar was born and brought up in Jalpaiguri but made a name for himself in the late eighties and nineties when he formed the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha to fight for the rights of labourers in and around Bhilai.
With his single-minded devotion to the welfare of workers in the iron mines and poor tribals, Shankar became a popular grassroots leader. He set up schools and clinics, where his doctor friends came to provide free treatment. He crusaded against alcoholism. He married Asha, a tribal girl from the area.
On September 28, 1991, he was murdered around 3.45 am by Mallah, a cycle-maker allegedly hired by some industrialists to kill him.
'He was a man of a different mettle. Ever since he left Jalpaiguri, he had been fighting for the rights of the labourers. It is his protest that prompted a section of the local industrialists to murder him,' said Swaraj.
Navin Shah, Chandrakant Shah and Moolchand Shah, owners of the Simplex Group of Industries, were among the five who had been arrested as conspirators but let off by the Supreme Court today.