GUWAHATI: A National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to three Assam politicians – two of them former rebels-turned-BJP leaders – in the Rs 1,000-crore scam in erstwhile North Cachar Hills.
Twelve others were awarded eight to 12 years of imprisonment. The court had convicted all of them on Monday. The politicians convicted were Jewel Garlosa and Niranjan Hojai, who were leaders of now-disbanded militant group Dima Halam Daogah (DHD-J), and former chief executive member of North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC), Mohit Hojai.
Niranjan Hojai’s counsel Bijan Mahajan told reporters that his client would challenge the judgement in the Gauhati High Court. “According to Section 21 of the NIA Act, the appeal in the high court has to be made within 30 days since pronouncement of judgment. We will file it by that time,” he said.
Most of the convicts, barring Niranjan Hojai and Jewel Garlosa, have already spent six to seven years in jail. Hojai and Garlosa were granted an interim bail in 2011 by the Gauhati High Court on the condition that they would take part in peace talks with government. The successful talks had led to the disbanding of DHD-J in 2013.
Hojai, who was the DHD-J commander-in-chief, is an executive member of Dima Hasao District Autonomous Council (previously NCHAC). Garlosa, who was DJD-J chairman, is a general member of the Council. Both are now with the BJP.
The convicts had allegedly siphoned off development funds of several government departments between 2006 and 2009. It was revealed during investigation that crores of rupees were diverted to the coffers of DHD-J for procurement of arms and ammunitions to wage a war against India.
The NIA had revealed in the charge-sheet, “As per the conspiracy hatched in 2008, accused Mohit Hojai took over the charge of NCHAC and began siphoning off government funds meant for the welfare of school kids, physically-handicapped and other government projects”.