A SPECIAL CBI court on Monday convicted 14 people, including National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) founder Ranjan Daimary, in the 2008 Assam serial blasts case.
Eighty-seven people were killed in the 11 serial blasts across four districts of Assam — Kamrup, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta — on October 30, 2008. The case was handed over to the CBI in December 2008.
Daimary, the prime accused in the case, was arrested in Bangladesh and handed over to India in 2010. He was released on bail in 2013, and is currently participating in peace talks with the government.
“Two chargesheets were filed in the case — one in 2009, which named 19 accused, and another in 2010, which named three more. Seven of the accused are still absconding — it has been learnt, unofficially, that at least two of them are dead. We have produced 650 witnesses and 687 pieces of documentary evidence. The quantum of punishment will be announced on January 30,” Special Public Prosecutor T D Goswami told The Indian Express.
While Goswami and N S Yadav, CBI’s investigating officer in the case, earlier said all the remaining 15 had been convicted, it later emerged that one of them, Mridul Goyary, was acquitted. According to reports, Goyary is not an NDRF cadre.
Another accused, Nilim Daimary, was convicted but only handed a fine, said Goswami. “Everything will be clear after a copy of the court order is obtained,” said Goswami.
The others who have been convicted — all linked to NDFB — are: George Bodo, B Tharai, Raju Sarkar, Anchai Bodo, Indra Brahma, Loko Basumatary, Khargeswar Basumatary, Prabhat Bodo, Jayanta Bodo, Ajay Basumatary, Mathuram Brahma and Rajen Goyary. Yadav said they would appeal for death sentence for all.
They faced charges under multiple sections including Sections 302 (murder), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 435 (mischief by fire or any explosive substance) of the Indian Penal Code, Explosives Act, and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Speaking to reporters after the court order, Daimary said: “Except Mridul, we have all been convicted. But we will fight in the higher courts.”
The NDFB, formed in the late 1980s to demand a separate Bodoland, is divided into factions today. The two major factions — Daimary faction and NDFB-Progressive — have agreed to peace talks with the government. Another faction — NDFB-S, led by B Saoraigwra — is still active and underground.
“Such judgments and peace talks cannot go together. He (Daimary) is the head of the organisation. If the leader is behind bars, how can peace talks go on,” Daimary’s sister, Anjali, told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, Kamala Choudhury, wife of auto-rickshaw driver Rajesh Choudhury who was among those killed in the blasts, said: “Nothing less than a death sentence on January 30 will satisfy us. They took the lives of our near and dear ones, they have no right to live.”