JORHAT, Oct 21 – The Justice KN Saikia Commission of Inquiry, instituted by the Tarun Gogoi-led Asom government to probe the incidents of ‘secret killings’ between 1998 and 2001 during the Asom Gana Parishad rule in the State, conducted the hearings in three cases, spread over two days, at the circuit house here on October 19 and 20. Two of the cases pertained to the ‘abductions’ of two persons from the Kakajan area in Jorhat district on March 25, 2000. The duo has remained untraced to this day. The third case related to the killing of Keshab Konwar, a resident of Bogori Jeng village in the Pulibor area of Golaghat district on September 1, 1999.
In the hearing, during the morning session on Thursday, Nazir Mohammed, father of Abidur Rahman who was ‘taken away’ by unidentified armed men, reportedly in Army fatigues and police dress, deposed before the panel. Abidur, then a student of Kakajan college, was ‘rudely’ woken up from sleep and whisked away by his ‘abductors’ in the wee hours of March 25, 2000. His fate is still not known.
According to Mahammed’s submission before the Saikia Commission about 15 to 20 men, both in uniform and civies, barged into his residence located at Bongaon Tiniali in Arandhora village of Kakojan under Teok police station after midnight and demanded to be led to his second son who had been in deep slumber at that time.
After his son was taken away. Mohammed aproached the local police and the civil administration and made inquiries. Unable to elicit any response, he filed a petition at the Gauhati High Court on March 28, 2000. As the whereabouts of Abidur are still unknown, Mohammed, resigned to his fate, has demanded a compensation of Rs 10 lakh or jobs for his two other sons – Wahidur and Mukibur. The aggrieved father told the Justice Saikia panel that he has not been obliged on these counts too.
During his deposition, Mohammed was accompanied by wife Rezia Begum and his two sons. They, however, did not testify.
In the afternoon’s hearing session October 19, the statements of Dipti Konwar, window of slain villager of Bogori Jeng in Golaghat district Kesab Konwar, and Minu Konwar, his sister, were recorded by the KN Saikia panel. Konwar was picked up by two gun-toting men in civics and with veiled faces at around 9.15 pm on September 1, 1999. His bullet-ridled body was recovered by the Titabor police at 11 pm from near a bridge over the Kakodonga river along the Dhodar Ali connecting Golaghat and Titabor. Konwar’s younger brother, Arup Konwar alias Amar Singh, was then an ULFA cadre having joined the outfit in November, 1989.
Konwar’s widow told the Justice Saikia panel that her family had been subjected to constant mental and physical harassment by the then Assam Police personnel. “I had been witness to numerous incidents of torture and harassment since my marriage in 1995”, Dipti Konwar said. She squarely blamed the civil administration and the top police brass of Golaghat district of that time for the ‘abduction’ and subsequent killing of her husband.
In yesterday’s sitting of the panel former secretary general of the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity (MASS) Pallab Borborah deposed in the case relating to Konwar’s killing. Borborah, who is now the general secretary of the Assam Students and Youth Organisation, implied that the circumstances prevailing at that time implicated the goavernment machinery as a man could not have been taken away without its ‘support’ amid the tight security measures.
In the second hearing on Friday, the Justice Saikia Commission recorded the statements of Syeda Sabela Begum whose first husband, scrap dealer Abdul Munim, was whisked away by a posse of unidentified armed men at around 3.30 am on March 25, 2000. Sabela’s sister Ruby Begum, too, was a key witness in the case. Since ‘abduction’, Munim has remained untraced, forcing Sabela to remarry as she was finding it difficult to feed their two children on her own.
Munim was a resident of Arandhora village in Kakojan under Teok police station of Jorhat district. He had married Sabela in May, 1995.
The Kakojan regional committee of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad had approached the government in August this year to include the twin Kakojan cases – that of Abidur Rahman and Abdul Munim, both neighbours – under the ambit of the KN Saikia Commission of Inquiry.
Though the Justice Saikia panel was also slated to hear another case relating to the ‘disappearance’ of shopkeeper Hiron Deka from the Sarupathar area (No 1 Parghat village) in Golaghat district in 1999, it decided to call the witnesses to Guwahati later. Deka, too, was ‘abducted’ by unidentified armed men and whisked away in a vehicle. His elder brother, Mukut Deka, was then an ULFA militant. He has since surrendered.