SPP Ziaul Kamar, who is a senior advocate of the Gauhati high court, told TOI that the Covid-19 pandemic and the hostile witnesses had delayed the case.
On June 8, 2018, sound engineer Nilotpal Das and businessman Abheejit Das of Guwahati, who were en route to Kangthilangso waterfall, were lynched to death at Dokmoka in Karbi Anglong by a mob on suspicion of child-lifters.
The SPP said, “Pandemic has delayed the case. Otherwise, we would have got the verdict by now. Court functions have also been affected by the pandemic.Various restrictions, including curbs on travelling, are currently in place in the state. Therefore, no summon has been issued to any witness as they have to come from far-flung areas of Karbi Anglong. Summons will be issued and the witnesses will be examined as soon as travel restrictions are lifted,” he added. He said 15-17 out of 70 witnesses are left to examine. “Examination of the witnesses will be completed within three months, if normalcy returns and the case proceeds. By the end of this year, a verdict might come,” Kamar said.
Though the case was lodged under the jurisdiction of the Karbi Anglong district and sessions court, it was transferred to the Nagaon district and sessions judge in September 2018 following a directive of the Gauhati high court. The Assam government had earlier requested the case to be shifted out of Karbi Anglong to ensure free and fair trial.
Police submitted an 844-page chargesheet against 47 accused in the case. The bail petition was rejected by the court in 2019.
On the hostility of the witnesses, the advocate said, “Eight witnesses turned hostile. Their statements to police during interrogation were different statement from the given before the magistrate. They said before the magistrate that they were threatened by police during the interrogation. So, these things have delayed the case as the court has to re-examine and cross-examine the witnesses on pleas by advocates.”
All the 47 accused, including prime accused Alfajoz, his father and Rupsingh Kro, are lodged in jail since their arrest.
Parents of both the victims on Tuesday reposed their faith in the judiciary. “It’s been three years when they were lynched to death. We are still waiting for justice. We have faith in the judiciary that justice will be delivered and the criminals will get punishment,” Gopal Chandra Das, Nilotpal’s father, said. A tribute programme was organized in memory of both the youths by the family members and friends of the youths in the city on Tuesday.