10 get life term in 2008 Assam bomb blasts

10 get life term in 2008 Assam bomb blasts

NDFB chief Ranjan Daimary outside the special court in Guwahati on Wednesday. Photo by Manash Das, Guwahati.

A special court here on Wednesday pronounced life imprisonment to 10 of the 14 militants convicted in the serial bomb blast case in Assam in 2008, which had left 88 dead and nearly 500 others injured.

Those punished include Ranjan Daimary, president of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), a militant group, which is in ceasefire with the Centre since November 2013 and is engaged in peace talks with the government.

Four others were given jail terms ranging between five to seven years along with fine, but they have already passed the terms in jail, CBI lawyer Dibyajyoti Das told DH, soon after the court order. The fast-track court on Monday convicted all 14 in the case.

The near-simultaneous nine blasts in Guwahati, Kokrajhar, Barpeta Road and Bongaigaon on October 30, 2008 had created so much of mayhem that it was termed as the deadliest militant attack so far in the state’s nearly 40-year-long militancy history.

Assam had erupted in anger and protest against militancy and called for the strictest action against those involved in the attacks. The governments have also faced criticism for delay in justice and for releasing Daimary on bail before the verdict of the case. 

Those given life terms are Ranjan Daimary, George Boro, Ajoy Basumatary, Rahul Brahma, Rajen Goyari, Raju Sarkar, Onsai Boro, Indra Brahma, Lokra Basumatary and B Thorai.

The CBI, which had taken over the investigation of the case from the Assam Police in December 2008, had charge-sheeted 22 accused, including Daimary, in 2011. Of the 22, three were dead and four absconding. “We are trying to arrest the absconding accused, too,” N S Kharayat, SP of the CBI's special task force, said.

All 14 were convicted under various sections of the IPC, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Explosives Substances Act.

Defence lawyer Manas Sarania said they would challenge the order in Gauhati High Court soon.

The victims' families welcomed the verdict, although they expected death sentences to all the accused. “We waited for 10 years, and finally we got justice today,” said Kamala Chouhdury, wife of Rajesh Choudhury, who died in one of the explosions here. At least 53 people died in the explosions in three places in Guwahati.

The NDFB members, who gathered outside the court premises, shouted slogans and demanded that Daimary be released on bail to facilitate peace talks. The NDFB called a 12-hour Assam bandh on Thursday to “protest” the court’s verdict.