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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

SC notice to army chief over 2011 Assam dacoity

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 20, 2014
First Published: 00:17 IST(20/8/2014) | Last Updated: 00:19 IST(20/8/2014)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to army chief General Dalbir Singh on a petition seeking an independent probe into an incident of alleged dacoity by army personnel under his watch in Jorhat, Assam.

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An SC bench also sought responses from the Centre, the Assam government and the CBI in the 2011 case.

Petitioner Renu Gogoi — whose house was robbed — said the police couldn’t investigate the case since “the army hijacked the probe to save its officials,” and demanded a probe by the CBI or a special investigating team.

She said the suspects belonged to 3 Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, Dimapur, then under the command of Dalbir Singh, who had complete knowledge of the crime.

In response, the army said it raided the house after receiving information that separatist Ulfa leaders were present in the house.

In 2012, former army chief General VK Singh — now a Union minister — had imposed a disciplinary vigilance ban on Dalbir Singh for his alleged lapses in the case.

VK Singh’s successor General Bikram Singh, however, overturned the ban and promoted Dalbir Singh as an army commander. In June, the Centre told the SC the ban on Dalbir Singh was “premeditated, illegal and vague”.

Recalling the 2011 incident, Gogoi said around 10-12 armed men with faces covered barged into her house early morning on December 21, 2011. The men — in army uniforms — tied up and blindfolded Gogoi and her children before escaping with cash and jewellery worth around Rs. 7.5 lakhs.

At the court martial proceeding, the army continued to shield the officers, sending them to military custody for 14 days and civil prison for three months only, Gogoi said.

Even if the army had raided her house to trace Ulfa militants, it violated the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act since the local police weren’t informed, Gogoi said. The raiding team wasn’t accompanied by the police, village elders or troops from the local army unit and didn’t prepare a seizure memo, she said.


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