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Burmese prisoners' ordeal

Eight-and-a-half years after Indian armed forces arrested 73 Burmese nationals.

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 06:14 IST
Satya Prakash
Satya Prakash

Eight-and-a-half years after Indian armed forces arrested 73 Burmese nationals in the Andaman sea for allegedly supplying arms and ammunition to insurgent groups in the Northeast, 34 of them are still languishing in Port Blair jails without trial.

The Supreme Court now, wants to know, how the case progressed after February 27, 1998, when the nationals were captured during “Operation Leech”. Also, whether the case deserves to be continued against Burmese nationals, who are said to belong to an Arakanese rebel group.

The case had made headlines across the country, as the government claimed that the 138 weapons and a large quantity of ammunition seized from them were meant for extremist groups in the Northeast. Considering the possible international ramifications of the matter, the government CBI with the probe.

A bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal has asked additional solicitor general Amrendra Sharan to independently examine the entire record of the CBI investigation "as an officer of the court". The court will consider Sharan's report on August 28.

Earlier, Arakanese rebels had written to the CJI seeking release of their men. “These men present no threat to India's security. In fact they were helping the Indian intelligence agencies,” the letter said. In their petition the Burmese detainees have sought quashing of the case pending before the chief judicial magistrate, Port Blair, claiming that undue delay in trial violated their right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

First Published: Aug 28, 2006 06:14 IST