| One of the accused being taken to court in Shillong on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Aug. 20: The arrest of 12 persons in connection with the brutal killing of three members of a family, allegedly for being menshohnoh or cut-throats, at Smit in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district points towards a possible family feud.
On Friday night, Yesly Mawthoh, 70, his son D. Nongdhar, 30, and his brother Besly Mawthoh, 65, were hacked to death by a mob for allegedly practising witchcraft on Lambha Nongrum, 25, who was found on the banks of Umiew river on August 14 with critical injuries. Both Yesly and Besly were Nongrum’s paternal uncles.
The family feud angle can be gauged from the fact that of the 12 arrested, half of whom are women, except one all belong to the Nongrum clan.
Yesterday, a team from East Khasi Hills district police visited the place at Smit, around 15km from here, and subsequently, three women — Barishisha Nongrum, 22, Meristylla Nongrum, 38, and Badnosha Nongrum, 40 — were picked up for interrogation.
Following a detailed interrogation of the trio, another nine were picked up in the wee hours today by a team led by superintendent of police (city) Vivek Syiem and deputy superintendent of police (city) Cherry Shadap.
The nine have been identified as Rajeshwell Nongrum, 39, Samuel Nongrum, 35, Risuklang Nongrum, 30, Sirus Nongrum, 49, Baladeimon Nongrum, 30, Mildred Nongrum, 40, Hapliang Nengnong, 45, Donbokskhem Nongrum, 28, and Lius Nongrum, 50. More arrests are likely to be made in the days to come.
All the 12 were remanded to seven days’ police custody by a local court this evening. Police have booked them under sections 120 (B), 302, 353, 324, 325, 145, 147 and 148 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, according to the police, there was apparently no sense of remorse in those arrested so far.
“There must have been a conspiracy behind the gruesome killing, and we are also examining whether the incident occurred because of a family feud. These seven days will be crucial as we will have to gather more evidence,” East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M.H. Kharkrang told reporters this evening.
Giving a brief narration about the incident based on preliminary investigations, Kharkrang said on Friday night, Yesly Mawthoh, his son D. Nongdhar, and his brother Besly Mawthoh, along with four others, had gone to Lambha Nongrum’s house to clarify the rumours which were doing the rounds that he (Yesly) was a cut-throat.
However, some of Nongrum’s relatives reportedly informed others which led to a gathering of the mob before the trio were hacked to death.
According to the district police chief, there were no records with the police to indicate that the trio had criminal antecedents. This substantiated the statement made by elders of Smit village council who also asserted that the trio had no criminal records.
At the same time, he informed that some of the relatives of the deceased have not gone back to Smit ever since the incident occurred, and he hoped that good sense would prevail among the villagers and that no harm would come to them.
Further, he said the four people who managed to escape from the mob hysteria are in safe custody.
Kharkrang also clarified that police had to resort to lathicharge on Friday night in order to control the situation, adding that a separate case has been filed in connection with the stone pelting at police personnel and damage to government vehicles on Friday night.