GUWAHATI: Families of the victims of the 2008 terror attack in Assam have appealed for equal punishment for all the insurgent groups who have taken the path of killing innocent people over the years.

Welcoming the verdict of a special CBI court in Guwahati which sentenced 10 people to life imprisonment for the October 2008 serial bomb blasts across Assam, the victims’ families said that though late, they had got justice.

“We don’t want the culprits to get death punishment, but to be alive and suffer. We want the culprits to be barred from visiting their family members so that they realise the pain, and suffer,” Niru Kalita, who lost her husband Pramod Kalita to the bombs, told The Citizen.

Around 88 people were killed and nearly 500 sustained injuries when a series of bomb blasts took place across four districts of the state on October 30, 2008.

53 people were killed in Guwahati alone. The serial blasts took place in three locations in Guwahati, and in Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta Road simultaneously.

On Wednesday the special CBI court in Guwahati sentenced National Democratic Front of Bodoland chairman Ranjan Daimary and nine others to life imprisonment for their involvement in the ghastly attacks.

The Forum for Terrorist Victims' Family, Assam, a platform of the victims’ families to raise their voice for justice, has welcomed the verdict of the court.

“We welcome the court verdict. Though it came late but finally the families get justice. Now we want to say that be it ULFA, NDFB or DHD – all the insurgency groups who have perpetrated crimes on innocent civilians – justice should be given to the victims at the earliest. We appeal to the investigative agencies so that they cooperate well with the trial,” Indranil Kalita, a leader of forum told The Citizen.

He said they were appealing to the investigative agencies to speed up the cases for other incidents of crime on a similar scale.

On the Dhemaji blast that killed at least 13 people, including 10 school students in 2004, Kalita said that the United Liberation Front of Assam too should be given punishment of a similar quantum.

“ULFA had owned up responsibility and admitted that they were the culprits. So punishment should be handed over to the leaders who are responsible for the blasts,” Kalita added.

An RDX bomb was dug into the Dhemaji College parade ground before Independence Day in 2004. The bomb, meant to target VIPs, blew up and instead killed several students. ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah had instantly denied the outfit’s involvement.

But in 2009, before his arrest, ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa first owned up to the blast and apologised. Baruah also later apologised for the gruesome incident.

The case is on trial at the Dhemaji sessions court since charges were framed on March 27, 2012.

Apart from that, the Forum also appealed to the government to start all the cases which were withdrawn to ease the road for the peace process with militants, especially in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts.

“We want that these cases should be started again so that the victims’ families get justice,” Kalita said.

The government has withdrawn all the similar criminal cases to negotiate peace talks. “But no one thought about the victims’ families,” Kalita said.