Jayanta Bora’s Custodial Death Revives Fears of the ‘Secret Killing’ Era

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Jayanta Bora’s Custodial Death Revives Fears of the ‘Secret Killing’ Era

Kareng Engtipee Phukan | June 20, 2020 16:21 hrs

While the people of Balijan were asleep, the peaceful night of 15th June reverberated with the dreadful screams of a 23 year old. “Ma, Ma...screamed the boy all along,” reported his neighbours. 

Was the boy kidnapped?

No. He was picked up in a joint operation by the police and army. 

Jayanta Bora, a 23-year-old degree student was picked up on the midnight of 15th June in a joint operation conducted by the Borholla Police Station under Jorhat district, and the 244 Field Regiment of the Indian Army. He was said to have connections with the ULFA-Independent and dealt in illegal weapons. 

Bora was picked up while he was asleep and was forcefully taken away by the police and the army. 

Although his mother pleaded with the personnel saying that Jayanta would be reporting at the police station early morning, her pleas were brushed aside.

A heartbroken relative of the unlucky youth, speaking to G Plus said, “Jayanta was picked up by the police at about 12 am. Before taking him, the personnel took his mother’s signature on three sheets of blank paper. Early morning we reached Borholla PS to see Jayanta. The officer-in-charge, Mintu Handique, informed us that his health had deteriorated during the night. So he was sent to Jorhat Medical College and Hospital. But before we could reach the hospital, we heard about Jayanta’s death in the morning news.”

Later that day, Borholla police took the dead boy’s body to his home to hand it over to his family. The boy was foaming at the mouth. His mother, Lila Bora, refused to take her son’s body without a proper investigation on his death. So the police kept the body in an ambulance where it lay by the roadside all night. 

The Deputy Commissioner, along with other officials of the administration, went to Jayanta’s house to request his family to take custody of the body for the funeral rites.  

Lila Bora has lodged a formal case against both the police and the army, seeking investigation into the matter. The case has been registered under section 302 (Punishment for murder), 120 B (Punishment for Criminal Conspiracy) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

The family and villagers finally took custody of the body for the funeral rites when the state agriculture minister Atul Bora, Jorhat MP Tapan Kumar Gogoi and state PWD minister Jugen Mohan went over and urged them.

When Jayanta’s family requested the police for an insight into the incident, the latter informed that the army had first taken Jayanta away from them. 

However, sources have informed that the student was first tortured by the army. After more than one and a half hours of torture, Jayanta was handed over to Borholla police, where he was subjected to further torture. Dark injury marks could be seen on the boy’s body, near his ear, on his private parts and other parts of the body.

The death of this Assamese youngster has been labelled as a murder by his family, well-wishers as well as the indigenous Assamese people. Many have also claimed it as a fresh episode of the much dreaded secret killings in the state - a repeat of the darkest history of Assam after 18 years.

Manoj Gogoi, leader of Assam Yuva Mancha, condemning the incident said, “Jayanta Bora’s murder has revealed the colonial regime of the state. Such murders of Assamese youth, by portraying them as ULFA members, are nothing new. We condemn such a heinous crime of the Indian army and demand the strictest punishment for all involved. Such acts cannot be the solution to the long years of unsolved issues between Assam and India. If the Centre continues with such acts then Assamese youth will be compelled to think of liberation.”

Ironically, Jayanta Bora’s father is a retired army personnel who served in the Indian army for more than 17 years.

The deceased’s family has said that one of the family members had earlier video-taped a police officer taking a bribe, and published the same on social media and news channels. The official was subsequently suspended. As such, the family alleged that the official might have been behind Jayanta’s killing for the sake of revenge.

Three police officials have already been suspended in this regard - Titabor Subdivisional Police Officer Amit Hojai (APS), Officer in-charge of Borholla police station, Mintu Handique (Sub-Inspector) and Bekajan Police outpost in-charge, Gopal Doley.

The question arises, how long will Assam’s youth be subjected to such custodial killings? Indigenous people of the state are well aware of the special powers granted by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1958, as ordinary youth have remained victimised under this pretext since the 1990s. Thousands have been murdered on the suspicion of being terrorists. History also narrates the tales of many women who were raped in the state by the army, for being kin of ULFA members.

Will Jayanta Bora’s case be honestly investigated and reach its logical end? Or will it be, like many others, lost among the many such files?

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