Shillong, Nov. 24: Meghalaya PCC working president Deborah C. Marak had a narrow escape today in her native East Garo Hills, when suspected militants allegedly opened fire during the final of a football tournament.
The incident occurred at 3.30pm at Rongbenggre village across the Simsang river, around 11km from Williamnagar in East Garo Hills. Marak, also a former deputy chief minister, had gone to the village to attend the football match.
“While I was about to distribute the prizes, suddenly around 10 armed men, who emerged out of nowhere, came to the stage where we were seated,” Marak told The Telegraph over phone from Williamnagar.
She said the men started to fire indiscriminately from their weapons, comprising pistols and AK-47 rifles. “The crowd started running helter-skelter and I injured my knee as I was pushed to the ground by the panic-stricken people,” Marak recalled.
After the firing eased, the PCC president said she started negotiating with the armed men who were searching for “Deborah Marak”.
“The leader of the armed group introduced himself as the in-charge of East Garo and South Garo Hills and asked for Deborah Marak. I promptly introduced myself but I asked the attackers not to harm the people,” she said.
The former legislator said the armed men told her no “political” meetings can be organised in the area. “I told them the function was not a political meeting and even if it was, I had the right to involve myself. Following the negotiations, which lasted for around 20 minutes, the armed men asked me to leave the place as soon as I finished distributing prizes,” she said.
Marak said the situation could have turned gory had she taken police personnel along with her.
“They were also searching for policemen but I did not take them along with me. From Williamnagar, we had set out for the village in two vehicles carrying my sister and party workers,” she said.
Marak said the police could not be promptly informed about the incident owing to the lack of mobile network coverage in the area.
East Garo Hills police could not be contacted in spite of several attempts.