A special CBI court on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment the founder of Bodo extremist organisation National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), Ranjan Daimary, and nine others from the outfit in the 2008 Assam serial blasts case. The judgment comes amid ongoing peace talks between the Centre and the Bodo militants.
At least 87 people were killed in the nine blasts across four districts — Kamrup, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta — on October 30, 2008.
Daimary, George Bodo, Ajay Basumatary, Khargeswar Basumatary, Rajendra Gayary, Onsai Bodo, Lokhra Basumatary, Indra Brahma, B Bithurai and Raju Sarkar have been sentenced to life imprisonment and Jayanti Brahma, Mathu Ram Brahma and Prabhat Bodo to imprisonment for five years — which they have already served during the trial.
The CBI filed two chargesheets, booking 22 accused. Of them, seven are absconding and at least two of them are said to be dead. Of the remaining 15, who were in court when the judgement was passed Monday, one Mridul Goyary was acquitted. One Nilim Daimary was convicted but let off with a fine.
Special Public Prosecutor T D Goswami welcomed the verdict. Manas Sarania, counsel for the accused, said the prosecution had relied on “hearsay” evidence and not eyewitnesses or concrete documentary evidence. “They should have been released on benefit of doubt,” Sarania said.
The case was handed over to the CBI in December 2008. Before being handed over to the CBI, the case was being investigated by an SIT of Assam police, headed by then IGP in Assam and now DGP of Meghalaya R Chandranathan.
Chandranathan said, “A lot more needs to be done by the CBI to expose the conspiracy behind the blast. They [the extremists] were operating out of Bangladesh and it should be made known to the posterity on whose behest they carried out the blast.”
On Monday, Daimary had told the media that the convicted men would appeal in a higher court against the order.
“He has expressed hope that by the time he completes his jail term, a separate Bodoland will be created. We have an apprehension that the verdict could derail the peace process and that’s why we request the government that they should not allow that to happen. It is a hard-earned peace process,” his sister Anjali Daimary told reporters.
Publicity secretary of the Daimary-led NDFB faction Okhahadwi said, “Yes, peace process could be in trouble because now our leader is behind bars. Ranjan Daimary was essential to the peace process.”
The outfit has called a 12-hour bandh on Thursday to protest the sentence.