The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Defence Ministry to pay a compensation of Rs. 50,000 each to two farmers — Bhadrakanta Baruah and Ghana Neog — of Assam who were tortured by the Army after being taken into custody on suspicion of links with the banned ULFA.

The incident happened on January 31 last year after the victims were taken by the 871st field regiment at the Maibela camp in Sivasagar district of Assam.

In its March 4 order the NHRC noted:

“During the investigation by the police, the victims were not found having any links with the ULFA and were released the same day. This negates the claim of the Defence Ministry that they confessed before the Army personnel that they had given shelter to the militants. These two persons remained in the custody of the Army for three hours and immediately after they were produced before the police they got medically examined which disclosed the injuries mentioned above which were caused by blunt object.

“Though the injuries have been opined by the doctor as simple, they are suggestive of torture during the interrogation by the Army personnel. Hence, prima facie, a case of violation of human rights is made out and the Government of India cannot escape its liability to compensate them monetarily.”

Earlier, following a notice from the NHRC, the Defence Ministry denied that the victims were tortured. But a report by the Sivasagar district superintendent of police confirmed injuries on them and denied that they had any links with the ULFA.

Asian Centre for Human Rights Director Suhas Chakma, who moved the NHRC for the victims, said this was another example to show how the Army had been submitting false and concocted reports to shield the guilty personnel.

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