“I Did My Job”: CRPF IG Rai to The Quint on Assam Encounter Report

CRPF says it received the IG’s damning Assam ‘encounter’ report, saying the onus is now on state police to probe.

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India
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<b>The Quint</b> spoke to the IG CRPF Rajnish Rai on his report on the 29-30 March encounter at Simlaguri in Assam’s Chirang district. (Photo: Lijumol Joseph/<b>The Quint</b>)
I did my job and my job is to share information with my superiors about incidents. 
Rajnish Rai, IG, CRPF

A senior CRPF officer who labelled the death of two National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Sangbijit) [NDFB(S)] militants as the result of extrajudicial execution has defended his inquiry report, saying that it was his duty to probe the killings in Assam that have raised serious questions over the security forces’ approach to end militancy.

Speaking exclusively to The Quint, CRPF Inspector General Rajnish Rai said that his 13-page report over the killing of the two alleged NDFB(S) militants in Simlaguri in Assam’s Chirang district on 29-30 March was “between the government and me”, and that he had kept his superiors informed of the facts arising out of his inquiry. Rai added that the report “should not be treated as a complaint”.

The report, a copy of which is in the possession of The Quint, was prepared on 17 April following a “discreet inquiry” into the alleged extrajudicial killing on 29-30 March by a joint team of the army, CRPF, the state police, as well as the Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB). The Union Home Ministry has accepted Rai’s report, though it has not outlined the next course of action.

Rai’s report, which has stirred a hornet’s nest, reveals in detail not only the version of the security forces, but also his own findings. While the security forces claimed that the two NDFB(S) militants, identified as Lucas Narzary and David Islary, were killed in a legitimate encounter, Rai’s concluded that it was a case of “pre-planned murder” carried out in cold blood.

Speaking to The Quint, Rai said:

I don’t know whether any action has been taken so far. They must be doing something.
Rajnish Rai, IGP, CRPF
The report is to be submitted by the DG, CRPF. It will be examined and assessed by the DG first and then sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Based on his findings, MHA will take up the matter.
Ashok Prasad, Advisor to Ministry of Home Affairs

Senior CRPF officials confirmed receiving Rai’s report. When contacted, CRPF Director General RR Bhatnagar refused to comment on this matter. A section of the print media had earlier reported, quoting unnamed officials, that an inquiry could be conducted against Rai into “why and on what grounds” he carried out the investigation.

When contacted, Prasad said:

Nothing prohibits IG Rai from carrying out an inquiry and submitting a report; its relevance and whether further action should be taken will be decided by the DG, CRPF.
Ashok Prasad, Advisor to Ministry of Home Affairs

Security Forces’ Version

The joint operation was carried out by Civil Police, Army, SSB, 210 CoBRA CRPF, and 156 Bn CRPF. The civil police had an intelligence input on the movement of 4-5 NDFB(S) cadres in Simlaguri area.

During this operation, the civil police came under indiscriminate fire from a group of 4-5 persons when they were challenged. The civil police retaliated in self-defense and in the exchange of fire, which continued for 20 minutes, two NDFB(S) cadres, namely, Lucas Narzary @ N Langfa and David Islary 2 @ Dayud succumbed to the bullet injuries sustained by them.
Excerpt from Inquiry Report

The security forces further claimed that the arms, ammunitions and explosives were recovered from the possession of the killed cadres from the place of incident.

The Discreet Inquiry’s Version

Rai said that the discreet inquiry raises “serious questions” about the contents of the FIR registered in connection with the incident by Assam state police. He also said that a “fictitious account of the joint operation [was given] by the security forces to conceal pre-planned murders of two persons in custody and present it as some brave act of professional achievement.”

Here is what the discreet inquiry concluded about the incident:

Two persons named Lucas Narzary @ N Langfa and David Islary @ Dayud were apprehended by a team of civil police and F/156 Bn CRPF from a house in village D – Kaling, PS Amguri, District Chirang, Assam in the intervening night of 29-30 March 2017. A Chinese-make hand grenade was also recovered from their possession. When this team was returning from the village along with the apprehended persons, they met another team of security forces led by the Addl. SP, Chirang, waiting for them near Ouguri market. From there, all the teams of security forces left together along with the apprehended persons. The apprehended persons were later shot by the security forces near Simlaguri village. The arms and ammunitions – except the Chinese-make hand grenade shown to have been recovered and seized from the possession of these killed persons and from the place of incident – were planted by the security forces.
Excerpt from Inquiry Report

Rai Demands Probe by an Independent Agency

In the report, Rai used strongly worded sentences to express his anguish. He said:

This incident evokes a terrible picture of criminality, cowardice, lack of integrity and a complete erosion of honour, which is against the ethos and traditions that are the hallmark of the security forces of our country.
Excerpt from Inquiry Report

Considering that multiple security forces are involved in the incident, Rai recommends that the probe be carried out by an external independent agency for an “unbiased, impartial, and thorough investigation”.

He also said:

The security forces involved in the joint operation must truly reflect how systems and processes have weakened over a period of time, resulting in commission of such unlawful acts in a planned and coordinated manner. It is absolutely necessary that urgent systemic reforms be initiated to prevent such wrongdoings in future.
Excerpt from Inquiry Report

Protection For the Witnesses

Considering that in such cases, the witnesses are the perpetrators themselves, Rai in the report has sought anonymity for them. He mentioned that the witnesses are under tremendous pressure to keep silent. During the inquiry, Rai examined nine witnesses and collected nine documents.

Here is what the witnesses told Rai during the inquiry:

  • On 30 March midnight at 2:45 am, the joint team cordoned off the house where NDFB(S) cadre, namely Langfa, was reportedly present with an associate.
  • On entering the house, the team found a 10 or 11-year-old boy sleeping in the front room and two young men sleeping in another. Both identified as Langfa and David, NDFB(S) personnel. One hand grenade was recovered from under a pillow. A woman came, who identified herself as the mother of the young boy, and took him away. The team left the house with the two NDFB(S) personnel.
  • When they approached the Ouguri market, they were joined by Shri BP Barkakoti, APS, Additional SP, District Chirang, who was leading another team of security forces comprised of Civil Police, Army, and 210 CoBRA personnel. From this point, Shri BP Barkakoti, APS, Additional SP led the joint team of security forces.
  • Senior officers had some discussions among themselves. At about 4:30 am, the convoy stopped on the road near village Simlaguri. Soon thereafter, the sound of gunshots was heard. Both the persons apprehended from the village D-Kalling were found lying injured by the roadside in an unconscious state with gunshot wounds.

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