Shillong, Feb. 10: Leaders of pro inner-line permit (ILP) groups today did not appear before the special court which had its second hearing on the damages suit filed by the Meghalaya government against them for organising series of agitations over the demand to implement the permit system.
Only representatives of Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), which had pulled out of the agitation on ILP, appeared before the special court, but leaders of other 13 pressure groups failed to turn up.
The special court had its first hearing on the case on December 3, 2013, but leaders of the pro-ILP groups did not appear in person.
Special assistant public prosecutor for the special court S. Kumar today said only CSWO president, Agnes Kharshiing and general secretary Evangeline Thabah appeared before the court and filed a petition seeking time from the court to submit their written statement.
Initially, 14 pressure groups, including CSWO, came together to sponsor agitations to pressure the Meghalaya government to implement the permit regime under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 to check entry of outsiders into the state. The CSWO later withdrew from the conglomeration on the grounds that it wanted to pursue the demand legally and not through agitations.
Kumar said notices served to leaders of the 13 pressure groups to come for the hearing could reach only the Khasi Women Welfare and Development Association (KWWADA) general secretary H. Kharbani and All India Garo Union (AIGU) general secretary, Wather M. Sangma.
“Notices served to other leaders of the pressure groups were returned as servers deputed by the court could not find them,” Kumar said.
The leaders of the groups were to appear in person or by a pleader to answer all questions relating to the suit and in default of their appearance, the suit will be heard and determined in their absence.
However, Kumar said fresh notices would be issued to the representatives of the pressure groups and the special court has fixed March 10 as the date for hearing the case.
“We have got corrected addresses of the representatives of the pressure groups and fresh notices will be issued asking them to appear before the court on March 10,” Kumar said.
The Meghalaya government had last year filed the damages suit in the special court of Rithelda Rymbai, seeking compensation of over Rs 31.09 crore from the groups for the damages and loss of private property, both individual and community-owned, and government property caused during the ILP agitation. The government termed bandhs, road blockades and office picketing as “unconstitutional and illegal”.
Meghalaya political department under-secretary, Borbah Khongwir, is representing the Meghalaya government, which is the complainant in the damages suit.
The defendants (pro-ILP groups) comprise the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) president Daniel Khyriem and general secretary Auguster Jyrwa, Federation of Khasi, Jaińtia and Garo People (FKJGP) president Joe Marwein and general secretary Wellbirth Rani and Hynńiewtrep National Awakening Movement (HNYF) president Gretis Honourable Kharshanlor. The other defendants include All Jaińtia Youth Welfare Organisation (AJYWO) president M.H. Dkhar and general secretary B. Ryngkhlem, Ri Bhoi Youth Federation (RBYF) president Banbuhai Makdoh and general secretary L.K. Sawkmie, Garo Students’ Union (GSU) president Tengsak G. Momin and general secretary John Miltu A. Sangma.
President of the Association for Democracy and Empowerment (ADE) Jacklinbirth D. Sangma and general secretary Bivash R. Marak, A’chik Youth Welfare Organisation (AYWO) president Adison Ch. Momin and general secretary Sengmen N. Sangma, AIGU president Albert Marak and general secretary Wather M. Sangmaare, KWWADA president Nebi Rapthap and general secretary H. Kharbani are the other defendants.