Ghost of ’secret killings’ haunts AGP

August 26th, 2009 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Aug 26 (IANS) Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is in the middle of a blazing controversy with the ghost of the infamous secret killings episode of the late 1990s haunting the beleaguered party.
The AGP is accused of being involved in the infamous extra judicial killings (popularly referred in Assam as the secret killings) during the tenure of chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta between 1996 and 2001.

About a dozen close relatives of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) guerrillas were killed across the state during the period when Mahanta was heading an AGP government.

The latest wave of protests and angry reactions comes after AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary last week gave a clean chit to Mahanta saying there were no ’secret killings’ during the AGP’s tenure between 1996 to 2001. Mahanta was also present at the press conference addressed by the AGP president.

“Patowary is a liar and Mahanta is a betrayer. The entire state knows about the secret killings and if the AGP and Mahanta was not involved then who killed so many innocent people…the state at that point in time was ruled by the AGP,” Samujjal Bhattacharya, advisor of the influential All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), told IANS.

“We want justice and those involved in the secret killings should be punished at any cost,” the AASU leader said.

The Assam government has also decided to reopen some of the cases of the ’secret killings’ to enable families of the victims to get justice.

“Already the process is on and investigations have begun into some cases,” Assam government spokesperson and health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.

The secret killings, as they came to be known, became a major issue during the assembly polls in 2001 and 2006, and again during the last parliamentary elections, in which the Congress led by Tarun Gogoi defeated the AGP hands down.

A probe headed by Justice (Retd) K.N. Saikia indicted Mahanta of involvement in the killings — blaming the security establishment during his tenure.

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