June 14, 2018

Peace negotiator Rebati Phukan missing; SC agrees to hear Habeas Corpus plea


On June 1, the Supreme Court consented to hear the Habeas Corpus petition filed by the family of peace negotiator Rebati Phukan, who has been missing for over a month. A notice has been issued and sent to the Court along with the states of Assam and Meghalaya in lieu of the matter.

On April 22, 2018, Rebati Phukan, a well-known peace negotiator who mediated between Centre and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) went missing.

Kaushik Phukan, his son, asserted that his father is in the custody of central agencies. Raising concerns he said that until now there has been no He said that there is no progress in the case even though the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had pledged to help.

He also requested the case be transferred to CBI or any other independent agency or a special investigating team as he said he lost faith in the local police as a result of their sluggish conduct.

The vacation bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Mohan M Shantanagoudar inquired the petitioner’s counsel whether he was an activist or only a negotiator.

Senior Counsel Geeta Luthra, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner replied, “He is only a negotiator.”

“My father was last found in Meghalaya…he was there and held in captivity by the NIA (National Investigation Agency)…there is a journalist who has reported that he was treated by a doctor on behalf of the NIA…there are strikes in Assam on account of this issue…the Chief Minister (of Assam) has directed an inquiry to trace him…I am also in danger…,” Phukan’s son urged through his counsel.

“The petitioner’s father has also been working directly with the Prime Minister’s Office since 1991 for various peace missions between the Centre and ULFA to bring peace in Assam,” the plea said, adding that Rebati Phukan had also “worked in association and cooperated” with the IB till 2016 on various missions in India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China.

Phukan, 67, was a prominent member of the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) formed by the ULFA in 2005 — and dissolved in 2011 — to mediate between the outfit and the Centre. He was also a renowned footballer in Assam in his younger days.

Issuing notices to the Union and respective states, the bench proceeded to schedule the matter for hearing after two weeks.

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