SC seeks Centre’s reply on missing ULFA mediator

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NEW DELHI, JUNE 01,
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to respond on a petition filed by the son of Rebati Phukan, a peace negotiator between the government and separatist organisation United Liberation Front of Assam, who has gone missing since April 22.
Kaushik Phukan claims that his father is in the custody of central agencies. He said that there is no headway in the missing case despite the fact that Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had pledged to help.
Justice L. Nageswara Rao initially reacted that if the Chief Minister is committed to find Mr. Phukan, there is no reason to “rush” to Delhi to the Supreme Court.
Justice Rao urged Mr. Phukan to move the Guwahati High Court. “What we can do, they (HC) can do,” Justice Rao addressed senior advocate Geeta Luthra, appearing for Mr. Phukan.
“Are you an activist or a mediator?” Justice Rao, who heads the Vacation Bench with Justice M.M. Shantanagoudar, asked at one point of time.
Confirming that her client’s father was a mediator and not an activist, Ms. Luthra impressed on the court her claim that the man was being held by central agencies. Finally, the court asked the Centre to respond while telling the Assam government that its police investigation should continue.
Missing since April
Mr. Phukan had earlier this week made an urgent mention in the apex court, alleging that the local police has been at best, lethargic, in their attitude towards finding his father, and sought an investigation by the CBI or a Special Investigation Team.
“He (Rebati) has been missing since April 22 and despite the lodging of an FIR to trace his whereabouts, no proactive steps have been taken till date… It is suspected that he may be in the custody of the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, Military Intelligence or National Investigating Agency as they have a rivalry among them,” the petition has claimed.
Mr. Rebati Phukan was appointed was appointed as a member of the People’s Consultative Group (PCG) formed by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in 2005 to mediate between the separatist outfit and the Centre.
The petition said Mr. Rebati Phukan has been working towards brokering peace between the government and the ULFA since 1990. In 1997, it said he played a crucial role in bringing Anup Chetia, general secretary, ULFA, to India after 18 years in jail in Bangladesh.
The petition claimed that Rebati was part of negotiations between Paresh Baruah’s faction with the Centre with help from the interlocutor with the Naga outfit National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) (Isak-Muviah), R.N. Ravi.
The petitioner has said that his father went missing after he left for a morning walk on April 22.
The plea said that on April 25, the Assam government had directed the Director General of Police to conduct an inquiry.

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