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Meghalaya council draws flak for deaths

Shillong, Dec. 5: A magisterial inquiry into the death of three persons accused of being menshohnoh (cutthroats) has come down heavily on a village council and recommended strong action against it.

At the same time, the probe recommended that three persons be charged with “culpable homicide” leading to the murder of the trio.

On the night of August 16 , Yesly Mawthoh, 70, Besly Mawthoh, 65, and Entarsing Nongdhar, 30, were bludgeoned to death by a mob at Smit village in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district. Entarsing was the son of Yesly.

Following the incident, a magisterial inquiry by East Khasi Hills additional district magistrate D.M. Wallang was conducted. The inquiry report was submitted to East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal for further action.

According to the report, Risuklin Nongrum of Nongmadan Smit, Barisha Nongrum of Nongmadan Smit, and Rajesswell Nongrum should be charged with “culpable homicide” leading to the murder of the Yesly, Besly and Entarsing.

“Each one of them had played a destructive role in the entire incident by spreading false rumours, instigating the crowd and for allowing the mob to drag out Yesly and six others outside the house, which subsequently led to their murder at the hands of the mob,” the report said.

It also pointed out that the three persons should be charged under Section 299 IPC and other related sections of the law.

As per the section, whoever causes death by doing an act with the intention of causing death or with the intention of causing bodily injury as is likely to cause death or with the knowledge that he is likely by such act to cause death, commits the offence of culpable homicide. Moreover, in the report, it was recommended that Lambha Nongrum, 25, should be treated for his “illness” and should undergo a detoxification course to cure him of alcoholism.

The action against Yesly, Besly and Entarsing was taken by the mob for allegedly practising witchcraft on Lambha . Yesly and Besly were Lambha’s paternal uncles.

At the same time, the report recommended strict action against the sordar (village chief), Dorbar Smit Pyllun (village council of Smit), and the headmen of Nongmadan and Wahiingsyiem locality for their “failure to protect” the lives of Yesly, Besly and Entarsing.

“The village council led by Kynsai M. Syiem and others had miserably failed as leaders. The village council had played a very passive role and was evidently encouraging the mob by leaving the deceased inside the house of Lambha Nongrum despite knowing very well that the incident could turn into a serious law and order issue,” the report stated.

The denial of the village council to the deceased family to cremate the trio in accordance with their religion and customs in the village on the pretext that it would be against the decision passed by the village council is a clear case of “violation of the basic human rights”, the report added.

It recommended action against Chandra L. Nongbri, headman of Wahiingsyiem Smit and Juster Khyriemujat, headman of Nongmadan Smit. It said the syiem (chief) of Hima Khyrim should review the issue of “liquor licences” in the area.

The report added that residential houses should not be allowed to be constructed inside market areas as it has become a “breeding ground of criminals and gambling den” where illicit liquor was sold. .

Speaking to this correspondent, Goyal said the report would be shared with East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M. Kharkrang while the district administration would make efforts to sensitise people on issues relating to cutthroats and others.

In this part of the world, there is a strong belief about the existence of menshohnoh or cutthroat and menaiksuid or witchcraft. These beliefs have often led to brutal killings of so called witchcraft practitioners and cutthroats.

Menshohnohs (cutthroats) are believed to be those who worship U Thlen (a mythical serpent) in the hope of acquiring wealth.