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Jailbreak witness missing for a year

Shillong, Nov. 9: A Meghalaya police sub-inspector, who was supposed to appear before a probe panel as a witness in the alleged fake encounter where Shillong jailbreak ring leader Fullmoon Dhar was shot dead, has been reported untraced for the past year.

This came to light during today’s hearing of Justice (retd) S.P. Rajkhowa commission of inquiry into the Shillong jailbreak case.

On October 19, Justice Rajkhowa had issued orders to summon sub-inspector R.A. Sangma to appear before the commission today as a witness. Sangma had apparently held the first inquest on the body of Fullmoon Dhar, the supposed ringleader of the May 31, 2009 Shillong jailbreak case.

Dhar was shot dead in an alleged fake encounter in the West Jaintia Hills district.

However, on November 7, West Jaintia Hills district superintendent of police O. Passi informed the commission that the summons issued to R.A. Sangma could not be served personally, since he remained untraced from service for the last one year.

Tura police in West Garo Hills reported that a copy of the wireless text message, containing the summons issued to Sangma, was duly delivered to his wife Jennie M. Sangma, at Upper Wandanang locality, Tura.

Steering Committee against Murder of Democracy (SCAMOD) legal counsel Poonam Yadav submitted before Justice Rajkhowa that the group would take steps to see whether R.A. Sangma was still available in Shillong and in his home district.

SCAMOD is a conglomerate of social organisations and pressure groups, which has been in the forefront to demand for the truth to emerge on the allegations of fake encounter against Dhar.

The commission allowed the appeal with a rider that while the SCAMOD can trace out R.A. Sangma, the commission’s work cannot be delayed.

“If the witness can be traced, the commission will be informed well ahead of time and his evidence will be recorded on November 20,” Justice Rajkhowa said.

According to Yadav, “R.A. Sangma was a very important witness for the case as the injuries on Dhar’s body, which were described in the inquest, were different from the injuries described in the post-mortem report. Maybe R.A. Sangma’s examination can bring out some other truth to the whole case.”

She said it has already been established from some other witnesses that it was R.A. Sangma who had made one inquest.

The retired judge fixed December 4, 5, 6 and 7 as the dates for the hearing of arguments.

On December 4 and 5, SCAMOD’s counsel will make submissions, while the government’s counsel will do the same on December 6 and 7.

“These arrangements are made well ahead of time, keeping in mind that the government has given extension of the term of the commission only upto January 11, 2013, and that further extension will not be granted,” Justice Rajkhowa said in his order.

The probe is on the five terms of reference of the inquiry, which include the reason behind the May 31, 2009 Shillong jailbreak and the circumstances leading to the death of Dhar.

On July 23, 2009 the state government had first appointed Justice (retd) D. Biswas to conduct the probe. Justice Rajkhowa was appointed after Justice Biswas was selected as the Upa-Lokayukta in Assam in April 2010.