The Assam Government on Tuesday ordered a magisterial probe into the alleged kidnapping of three tribal youths on December 21 after one of them was found dead. The three had gone missing from the Narayanpur area in the Baksa district of Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).

Of the three, one, identified as Raj Kumar Rabha, came back and alleged that trio had been picked up by the Army and tortured while in custody. The Army denied the allegation, calling it “baseless and false,” but ordered an investigation into the incident “in keeping with sentiments of the public and the gravity of the accusations levelled against them.” A magisterial probe into the incident too has been ordered as per the instructions handed out to the Baksa Deputy Commissioner by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

An FIR was lodged with Mushalpur police station by father of the one of the kidnapped — Kundan Basumtary — on December 22, saying that his son was missing and was suspected to have been kidnapped the previous day. Another FIR was lodged at Tamulpur police station on December 23 by the elder brother of the deceased, Rajib Basumtary, in which it was alleged that trio had been picked up by the Army’s 12 Kumaon Regiment.

As per Rabha’s account, the trio were picked up by some persons whom he knew as defence personnel. He alleged that he could realise that they were taken to Mushalpur Army camp and also to an isolated place where they were beaten up and asked to reveal information on illegal arms.

When contacted, Brigadier B. Parmer of the 107 Brigade of the Army, based in Tamulpur, which also has a jurisdiction over Baksa district, said that an internal probe was ordered into the allegations, but there was no conclusive evidence of anyone being picked up by the Army from Narayanpur area as alleged.

“I have spoken to the person who claimed to have returned. He claimed that he was blind folded and had the perception that they were taken to Mushalpur Army camp. He also revealed that people there were speaking among themselves in Bodo, Bengali and Assamese but nobody spoke in Hindi. We checked all entry and exit entries and found no evidence of anyone being picked up and brought to Army camp,” the Brigadier said.

Rebutting news reports alleging the Army’s involvement in the incident, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Defence said : “It has been clarified that there was no involvement of Army/ Army personnel in the case and no operations were launched in general area Narayanpur. The Indian Army conducts all its operations in transparent environment and in [the] presence of representatives of Assam Police. [The] Indian Army always stood in times of crisis with common people of Assam and strongly condemns such acts of violence against the ‘Citizens of Assam’. Protection of human rights of every citizen of the country is the fundamental tenet of Indian Army’s operations policy and does not carry out such barbaric acts. Indian Army is deployed in Assam to bring the internal security situation of the state to normalcy to enable the civil administration to function effectively. Certain groups with maligned intentions are opposed to this process. It is a purported attempt by these miscreants to tarnish the image of the ‘Indian Army’ to deter Security Forces from carrying out effective counter terrorist operations.”