On 5th April 2015, at 2 pm, 10-12 army personnel of the 8-jat regiment entered Langkiding village of Khorsim Athoi area and raped and molested two women and two minor girls aged 13 years.
It is to be noted that though these army personnel had entered the village in the name of search operation for militants, not a single question was asked regarding whereabouts of the same. Instead all they asked was for alcohol. When the female members raised their voices several other women came to their help, these women in turn were brutally beaten by the army personnel.
Please note that at the time of me writing this article, no FIR has been lodged of this particular incident: again a reminder of the number of cases that go unreported against the Indian army.
After that the army group left Langkiding village and halted at Langchingbar village where they spent the night.
On 6th April 2015, the same army group reached Sarthe Tokbi village around 7 am where the rape occurred of a minor girl, as well as her mother and another woman who came to her rescue.
In keeping with the requirements of the law, I am not mentioning the names of the rape survivors in these two incidents.
It is to be noted that at the place of rape of the mother and daughter, the army personnel dropped a piece of cloth with his/their semen sample which has been handed over to the police.
At the house of the third woman, a widow, who had also been raped, I was told something that was heart-rending. When she was being raped, her 2 year old son was with her, who started crying on seeing his mother being raped. The army personnel, in response, hit the toddler’s head with the butt of his gun thereby severely injuring him.
When the three womenwere being raped they cried out in protest, and a few men from the village came to help them and they in turn were severely beaten up. Their names are Navet Ronghang, Babu Tisso, Hemary Rongpi, Mensing Bey, and Sonaram Bey. In this village also, the army personnel didn’t ask a single question about militants.
The Sarthe Tokbi incident took place on 6th April 2015, but the FIR was filed on 8th April 2015. This gap happened because of the difficult terrain and the distance to the nearest police station, in addition to the mental and physical trauma of the victims.
I along with two other activists went on foot to the village, and it took healthy persons like us 5 hours to reach the village. Further, there is no mobile network in the village for the victims to contact the police.
On 8th April 2015, two village elders Obet Hanse and Jona Millick of Langkiding village were picked up by the Indian army, and we have received information that they are being tortured by the Indian Army to issue a statement saying that the 8-jat regiment on 6th April 2015 were present at Langkiding Village and not at Sarthe Tokbi village.
After this incident occurred, on 10th April 2015 the people of Dokmoka town of Karbi Anglong district had a peaceful demonstration outside the 8-jat regiment battalion, the crowd consisting mainly of school students were brutally lathi charged, tear gas shells and even live bullets were fired in which two school students - Mamata Marak, a student of class 9 and Pratap Rongpi, a student of class 8 were injured and they were rushed to Guwahati Medical College where they were operated upon. The victims are yet to receive any compensation from the Assam Police; what they have received is one meagre bottle of Horlicks, and a few packets of biscuits.
On 12th April 2015, representatives of social organizations a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner, SP and other senior bureaucrats at the Circuit House, Diphu in which we were assured of quick and prompt action.
The DC informed us that the SOP (standard operational procedure) according to which prior to any military operation, the local police and local administration are to be informed, was not followed in this case. Also the SP informed us that medical test confirmed that rape had occurred, so we demanded speedy justice.
On 13th April 2015 we had a meeting with Mr C P Mohanty (army officer in-charge of the entire lower Assam), Mr K Malhotra (army officer in-charge Karbi Anglong), and V S Ganesh Kumar (investigating officer from the Centre) where we were assured that speedy justice would be delivered and the investigating officer was given a time frame of 6 days by Mr C P Mohanty (of which 2 days had already passed) to submit the report of his investigation.
That same evening we received information that one of the accused jawans allegedly committed suicide. A reporter who saw the dead body of the jawan of the 8-jat regiment has told me that it did not seem like a case of suicide as there was a gunshot injury to the head plus the throat had been slit also. Something did not feel right to us activists of social organisations. Plus we knew that a group of 10-12 army personnel had gone to Khorsim Athoi and the number of accused is far more than one. What we are afraid of right now is the army might try to sweep this matter under the carpet by saying that only one army jawan committed the rape and now he is no more. All that we want is a transparent investigation so that the people who committed the crime can be punished. And we are also seeking scrapping of the AFSPA that provides a shield to perpetrators of rape (and murder), as long as they are in Army uniform.