The Gauhati High Court has ordered compensation of Rs 20 lakh each to the families of five student leaders who died during an army operation in 1994 in Assam.
The high court in its order said that the deaths happened during the army operation, even though there is no “material available on record” to show whether they died in a manner “acceptable or unacceptable in law”.
The student leaders were Prabin Sonowal, Akhil Sonowal, Debajit Biswas, Pradip Dutta and Bhupen Moran.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after looking into the matter had held that the five student leaders died in a “manner unacceptable in law”. The CBI had concluded that the soldiers were guilty and filed chargesheets in a local court.
The matter was, however, covered by the Army Act, 1950, and so the proceedings were held in a court martial, which subsequently cleared the soldiers of all charges.
The CBI in its report in February 2002 had alleged two army personnel – Colonel AK Lal and Major Thomas Mathew – were guilty. The report alleged Colonel Lal planned the entire operation and Major Mathew led a group of soldiers and ordered the firing.