Mix-up victim Rusith Sangma missing, probe turns futile

Families of both murderer and victim in Tripura still wait for justice

Thomas Sangma and Chomoni Sangma, brother and sister of Rusith Sangma at Baghmara. (ST)
Thomas Sangma and Chomoni Sangma, brother and sister of Rusith Sangma at Baghmara. (ST)

SHILLONG: The impersonation victim Rusith Sangma, who was entrusted to the custody of his brother and sister in South Garo Hills in 2001, has gone missing deepening the mystery.
A police official said on Sunday that police are trying to trace the mix-up victim though attempts to locate him after the family recently lodged an FIR failed.
The story related to the sensational case of Rusith had many twists and turns over the years.
It was in 1992 that a student from Tripura indentified as Deepcharan Kaipeng, stabbed to death his own tribe man Doyalian Kaipeng, also a student of St Anthony’s College here. They were residing at Malki.
Deepcharan was arrested and lodged in Shillong jail.
Probably in 1994 either when Deepcharan died in custody or escaped, he was replaced by the jail staff with the non-criminal lunatic Rusith who was already in jail. In fact, Rusith was picked up in the middle of 1980s from South Garo Hills border and was first lodged in Tura jail and subsequently shifted to Shillong jail.
The mix-up case between Deepcharan and Rusith was detected in 2001when Rusith was produced before the lower court. The judge, S.R Sen, who was dealing with the case at the lower court, then entrusted the matter to senior lawyer S.P Mahanta to pursue the case on behalf of Rusith.
Subsequently in the same year, when the matter came up before the then Shillong Bench of the Gauhati High Court, it ordered a CBI inquiry and adequate compensation to Rusith, while asking the Meghalaya police to find out Deepcharan, who, however, is yet to be found.
The then Shillong Bench of the High Court in June 2001 had also asked the State Government to pay Rs 2,500 by the seventh of every month as compensation to Thomas, Rusith’s brother, through the Deputy Commissioner of Baghmara.
The Court wanted Thomas to look after Rusith since the latter, who was already married and had a daughter, was abandoned by them.
After a year-long tireless inquiry, the CBI submitted its report in 2002 related to the mix-up case, and 10 jail officials were found guilty.
Later, the Gauhati High Court during the hearing in 2005 had asked the State Government to pay Rs 2 lakh to Thomas as compensation for the mix-up case.
The money was to be spent for the welfare of Rusith.
During a visit by this reporter to Tripura a few years ago, it was found that the relatives were still waiting for the return of Deepcharan. The father of Deepcharan said the family was yet to come to terms with the disappearance of his son.
At the same time, the families of victim Doyalian, who was killed by Deepcharan, are eagerly waiting for justice.
The most intriguing is the case of Rusith.
After the lower court handed over Rusith to his brother Thomas Sangma in 2001, he was taken to his village Gulpani, South Garo Hills.
However, during a visit by this reporter to Baghmara, South Garo Hills, in November last year, it was revealed that Rusith was nowhere to be found.
During an interaction at Baghmara Circuit House, Thomas and his sister Chomoni Sangma claimed that in 2006, Rusith went missing from their house and since then he was not traceable. However, they did not file any FIR regarding the missing case.
Thomas also said though some people had informed that they spotted Rusith in certain villages in Garo Hills, he was not traceable.
During the conversation with the duo, it was revealed that the one-time compensation amount of Rs 2 lakh was not properly utilised. The High Court had, in 2015, ordered that the money should be deposited in a bank account by Thomas for the welfare of Rusith.
Though the Court ordered another monthly payment of Rs 2,500 to Rusith, there was discontinuity in the payment and it was learnt that the payment was stopped contrary to the Court order.
Thomas and his sister did not given any satisfactory reply on the manner in which the compensation amount was used.
Thomas said the money was spent for Rusith’s treatment.
Though Thomas and his sister said Rusith has been missing, they did not file any FIR with the police until they were persuaded to lodge a complaint with Rongara police outpost on November 10 last.
The copy of the FIR was also sent to the South Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner, S.N Marak.
The Deputy Commissioner could not throw much light on the whereabouts of Rusith and also on the reasons why the compensation was stopped other than arranging a meeting with the brother and sister of Rusith at Baghmara circuit House.
When cross-checked with SP Baghmara Anand Mishra, he said the investigation was completed and Rusith is still missing.
The inquiry report of the investigating officer at Rongara, however, doubted the intention of the brother and sister of Rusith in not filing FIR in time.
After the recent query by The Shillong Times, the prisons department informed that disciplinary proceedings were taken up against 10 officials, Felicita Wahlang, C.R Shabong, D.N Goswami, Paize Warjri, Dr D.R Dkhar, E.K Sangma, K. Saikia, N.R Deb, L.K Buragohain and H.K Gogoi for the mix-up case after the CBI found them guilty.
However, except for Wahlang and Deb, all the eight officials had already retired. Records are not available with the prisons department as to how many of these officials passed away.
The reply of the department was that the only punishment to them was withholding the annual increment for one year.
The department further said Rs 2,500 per month as maintenance allowance was paid to Rusith’s brother from June 2001 till September 2005. The monthly allowance was stopped in view of the payment of compensation of Rs 2 lakh in December 2005, according to the reply.
However, the order of the High Court did not mention that the monthly maintenance allowance of Rs 2,500 should be stopped.
The missing case of Rusith was taken up with Meghalaya DGP S.B Singh who assured to probe the matter.
Since both Deepcharan, the murder accused from Taidu village under Amarpur in South Tripura, and Rusith from Gulpani in South Garo Hills are missing, a further CBI inquiry may unravel the mysteries of the missing cases.

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