The Gauhati High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to pay compensation of Rs 20 lakh each to the families of five youths killed by the Army in Assam's Tinsukia district in 1994 during an anti-insurgency operation, the advocate of a petitioner said.
The court also declared the case closed in view of the long time that has elapsed, which makes it difficult to retrieve evidence or witnesses, advocate Pari Barman told PTI.
A division bench of Justices Achintya Malla Bujor Barua and Robin Phukan gave the order, she said.
"The case has been closed today. The honourable court has ordered the Union of India to pay compensation of Rs 20 lakh each to next of kin of the five deceased," she added.
The case pertains to the killing of five youths who were among nine All Assam Students' Union (AASU) members picked up by the Army from the Doomdooma circle of Tinsukia district in February 1994, following the murder of a tea estate manager by the ULFA.
Then AASU leader Jagadish Bhuyan, who later became a state minister, immediately filed a habeas corpus before the high court fearing the safety of the nine youths, which had led the Army to produce four of them alive and the bodies of the others later.
Seven personnel of 18 Punjab Regiment of Dhola camp involved in the killings were found guilty and awarded life imprisonment by an Army court in 2018.
Ms Barman said the district judge of Tinsukia has been asked to identify relatives, who are to make their claim before it within 15 days.
The compensation amount will be deposited with the high court and it will be paid to the victims' families as identified by the district judge, Ms Barman said.
As the order copy was yet to be made available, it is difficult to share more details, the advocate said.
"Since it is an old case and it will be tough to retrieve evidence or witnesses, the court decided to close it. It was hearing two cases clubbed together, including the habeas corpus of 1994 filed by my client Jagadish Bhuyan," Ms Barman said.
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