Jorhat, Feb. 18: Four among the five persons, who were sentenced to life imprisonment after they were held guilty by Gauhati High Court in an alleged gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old at a tea estate on the outskirts here in 1992, surrendered before the court of district and sessions judge today.
The Jorhat district and sessions judge P.K. Khanikar sent Anjan Kumar Sarmah, Dhrubajyoti Bhuyan, Akhil Bordoloi and Phatik Dutta, to judicial custody. The fifth convict Jeet Kakoty, alias Jitendra Nath Kakoty, is absconding.
Kakoty, Sarmah and Bhuyan were assistant managers of Gotonga tea estate while Bordoloi was the welfare officer of adjacent Sangsua tea estate under Pulibor police station in Jorhat. Dutta, who was not a tea garden employee, was a friend of the accused.
Most of the convicts are now in their forties.
Sources in Jorhat district judiciary said today the four convicted persons surrendered before the court following an order of the Supreme Court on January 10 . The apex court had directed the four convicts to surrender before the court of Jorhat district and sessions judge within six weeks from January 10 after the four had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Gauhati High Court order.
A two-judge Gauhati High Court bench of Justices K. Sreedhar Rao and B.D. Agarwal had convicted the five persons on November 11, 2013 and awarded life imprisonment in connection with a criminal appeal filed by the state government challenging a 2003 Jorhat sessions court verdict acquitting all the five accused.
The high court convicted the accused under Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of the IPC and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. The high court convicted the accused on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
The high court, however, upheld the acquittal of the accused by Jorhat sessions court under Sections 376 (gang rape) and 366-A (inducing a minor girl for procreation) IPC.
The victim’s brother was a driver at Gotonga tea estate.
According to the FIR lodged by the victim’s brother, prime accused Jeet Kakoty, who was riding a motorbike, abducted his sister around 4.30pm on December 27, 1992. The victim’s severed body parts were recovered from a railway track near Gotonga tea estate on December 29.
The victim’s brother identified the body parts to be that of his sister from the blood-splattered frock that was also found on the tracks. He had gifted his sister the dress on Durga Puja. The body was cut into 30 pieces after a train ran over it. Doctors had to reconstruct the body for conducting a post-mortem .
The allegation against the accused was that they had gang-raped the girl, a Class IX student, at the tea garden’s bungalow number 17 which was then occupied by Kakoty. They subsequently stabbed her to death before dumping the body on rail tracks.
Police had also recovered a blood-stained khukri (dagger) which was allegedly used by Kakoty in the crime. The police claimed that the girl was killed in the bathroom of the bungalow as bloodstains were found on the wall.
The then district and sessions judge, Jorhat, D.K. Mahanta, on May 31, 2003, acquitted all the accused because of “insufficient” evidence against them.