GUWAHATI: A special court on Wednesday awarded life imprisonment to ten people, mostly members of insurgent group National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), in connection with the October 30, 2008 serial bomb blasts case in Assam in which 88 people were killed and 540 others injured.
On January 28, the court had convicted 14 people and acquitted another by giving him the benefit of doubt. Those awarded life imprisonment include NDFB chairman Ranjan Daimary, George Boro, Ajay Basumatary, Khargeswar Basumatary, Rajendra Goyari, Onsai Bodo, Lokra Basumatary, Indra Brahma, Baishagi and Raju Sarkar.
Four others were convicted under certain Sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act where the maximum punishment is from five to seven years. As they have already spent ten years in jail, they can walk to freedom by paying a certain amount as fine.
“Ranjan Daimary, George Boro, Ajay Basumatary, Khargeswar Basumatary, Rajendra Goyari and Onsai Boro, who had hatched the conspiracy to cause the serial bomb explosions with the active help and assistance of the other convicts, have to be condemned to death as per the rarest of rare case rule laid down by the honourable Supreme Court…Considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, I sentence them to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000 only, each on each count, for committing the offences punishable under Sections 120-B and 302 IPC, Sections 3 (b) of the Explosives Substances Act, 1908, and Sections 10 (b) (1) and 16 (1) (a) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,”. CBI’s special Judge Aparesh Chakrabarty said pronouncing the judgement.
Manas Sarania, who is the counsel for Ranjan Daimary, said, “We will file an appeal in the Gauhati High Court. The special court has wrongly punished them. The evidence submitted by the prosecution is not acceptable evidence to punish somebody”.
Daimary’s sister and social activist Anjali Daimary was annoyed over the conviction and judgement.
“Leaders of other insurgent groups in Assam had also killed children, women, lawmakers besides an IPS officer and Hindi-speaking people but they were not punished. So, we are victims of discrimination,” she told reporters outside the court complex with an oblique reference to rebel group United Liberation Front of Assam or ULFA.
She added: “We did not have any expectation. We knew we are not going to get anything in Assam. Conviction and peace process cannot go together. We will move the Gauhati HC. We will keep fighting for justice”.
Several members of the Ranjan Daimary faction of NDFB, which has been in peace mode for past few years, chanted slogans in favour of the outfit and Daimary while the convicts were being whisked away in two buses by the security personnel following the court’s judgement.
In 2009, the CBI had filed a charge-sheet against 22 people, including prime accused Daimary. Seven of them were absconding. Of the seven absconders, three died in due course.
The NDFB had triggered nine blasts that day in which 53 people were killed in the three blasts in Guwahati, 20 in the three blasts in Kokrajhar and 15 in Barpeta Road. Nobody died in the blast at Bongaigaon.
Altogether 14 cases were registered against Daimary. He was arrested in Bangladesh in 2010 and handed over to Indian authorities. In 2013, he managed to walk out on bail after the CBI had not opposed his conditional bail as by that time his group was taking part in peace talks with the Central government. The NDFB suffered a split in 2008 after the probe agencies had named Daimary as the blasts mastermind.