With the police in Assam yet to make a breakthrough in the case of disappearance of Rebati Phukan, a mediator between the Centre and militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), five weeks since he went missing, his son has filed a Habeus Corpus petition in Supreme Court.
The petition filed by Phukan’s son Kaushik seeks direction to the authorities, including Assam government, to produce Phukan before the court.
It was mentioned before a vacation bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Mohan M Shantanagoudar on Tuesday by senior advocate Geeta Luthra. The court agreed to hear it on June 1.
Phukan, 67, was a prominent member of the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) formed by the ULFA in 2005 — and dissolved in 2011 — to mediate between the outfit and the Centre. He was also a renowned footballer in Assam in his younger days.
Phukan went missing from his rented accommodation at Ambikagiri Nagar locality of Guwahati on April 22. Days later, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed the then DGP, Mukesh Sahay, to immediately conduct an inquiry.
Guwahati police commissioner Hiren Chandra Nath told The Indian Express on Tuesday that no breakthrough has been made yet in the case. “We are putting our best effort,” he said.
People in the know say Phukan is extremely close to Paresh Baruah, chief of ULFA (Independent), and that he was working on a fresh negotiation proposal between ULFA(I) and the Centre. Phukan and Baruah grew up together in the same village in Dibrugarh district.
“Paresh Baruah is like a younger brother to my father. People call them childhood friends but they are like brothers,” Kaushik told The Indian Express over phone.
His petition states that Phukan “might be in the custody of the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Military Intelligence or NIA, as they have a rivalry amongst them”.
“The petitioner’s father has also been working directly with the Prime Minister’s Office since 1991 for various peace missions between the Centre and ULFA, to bring peace in Assam,” according to the plea. Phukan had worked in association with the Intelligence Bureau on various missions until 2016, Kaushik submitted.
He contended that he had come to know that on April 20 Phukan had attended a “secret meeting” with a retired bureaucrat and an advocate of Assam, during which a “proposal memorandum to negotiate with Paresh Baruah, ULFA chief, was being discussed and the same was to be presented before Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon”.
On April 22, his father went out for a morning walk and had not returned since, the petitioner said.
Kaushik said that he is disappointed that the police have not achieved any breakthrough in their investigation. “I did not have any other option than coming to the Supreme Court. I am no political leader .but I am really agitated and I can take it to any level,” he said.