Militants-turned-BJP leaders get life term in Assam terror funding case
Thirteen others were also sentenced to jail by an NIA court in two cases related to the siphoning of government funds for subversive activities .
A special court on Monday awarded prison terms to 15 people, including the former chairman and commander-in-chief of a disbanded Assam-based terror outfit, in two cases related to the siphoning of government funds amounting to nearly Rs 1,000 crore for subversive activities.
Three of the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The cases – which pertained to government officials and elected representatives of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) collaborating with militants to procure illegal arms through public funds – were the first to be handled by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) upon its formation in 2009. The embezzlement part of the case is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Jewel Garlosa, former chairman of the now-disbanded terror group Dima Halem Daogah-Jewel (DHD-J), and Niranjan Hojai, commander-in-chief of the outfit, were among those sentenced to life by NIA special judge Rabin Phukan. Both were released on interim bail in 2011, following which they joined the BJP and became NCHAC members.
While former NCHAC chief executive member Mohit Hojai was also sentenced to life imprisonment, senior government official RH Khan was awarded 12 years in jail. All the other accused were sentenced to varying periods in jail, and awarded fines for their involvement in the cases.
“As per Section 21 of the NIA Act, we will appeal against the verdict in the Gauhati high court within the one-month deadline,” Hojai’s counsel, Bijan Mahajan, told mediapersons.
The NIA registered the cases (RC-01/2009 and RC-02/2009) on June 5, 2009, after it took over the investigation into the recovery of arms and unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 1 crore from the possession of two DHD-J cadres at Guwahati in April that year. The cadres were identified as Phojendro Hojai and Babul Kemprai.
The probe revealed that the terror outfit had used NCHAC representatives, government officials and contractors to appropriate crores of rupees meant for development projects through hawala channels. The money was later used to procure arms for the outfit, and carry out attacks on security forces and civilians.
The NIA recovered several weapons procured with the embezzled funds during the course of its investigation. They included five M-16 rifles from Singapore and a 9-mm Beretta pistol.
“Mohit Hojai and the other accused public servants, along with the accused contractors, committed criminal misconduct and defalcated huge sums of money from funds available with the NCHAC,” the charge sheet stated. The money was later channelised through hawala operators in Guwahati and Kolkata to arms smugglers who supplied weapons to the DHD-J for terror-related acts, it added.
In the second case, three people – including NCHAC members – were arrested following the recovery of over Rs 32 lakh in unaccounted cash from the car they were travelling in.
Both cases were tried together by the special court.
The DHD-J was formally disbanded on November 27, 2012, after a 15-year-long insurgency to create a separate state called Dimaraji – comprising the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills (now renamed as Dima Hasao) in Assam – remained unsuccessful.
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