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‘Activists’ held for torture

Tura, May 9: Five persons were today arrested for illegal confinement, kidnapping and torture of 12 girls aged between 18 and 24 years.

They were produced in the sessions court this evening and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody.

The five accused, pretending to be “rights activists” had picked up the girls levelling allegations of involvement in “illegal sex trade” against them. They held the girls captive for eight days in a rented house of Jaynie Ningring N. Sangma at Danakgre, on the outskirts of this town.

The victims were rescued late last evening and brought to the police station after their relatives raised a commotion at Sangma’s house.

West Garo Hills superintendent of police Mukesh Singh said, “We have taken up a suo moto case based on the statement of the 12 victims. It is a serious violation of law. We will take the best legal recourse to give justice to the victims.”

The police have registered the case under Sections 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person), 387 (putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 343 (wrongful confinement for three days or more), 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) and 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons).

The five accused are Jaynie Ningring N. Sangma, 37, Babiana M. Sangma, 42, Merrlyn D. Shira, 52, Konica S. Sangma, 37, and Lonavi R. Sangma, 34.

The women’s cell of Tura police recorded the victims’ statement today, wherein they have mentioned the inhumane torture meted out to them in the past eight days.

Singh said, “The injuries are serious in nature, according to the medical report.”

The victims bore bruise marks on their bodies.

Seven of the victims said they were picked up from their houses in the presence of their parents. Five of them were picked up from Chasingre on Sunday when they were returning from Williamnagar in a vehicle after attending a farewell party in their college.

The activists claimed that they took the five girls to the police station but since no officer was there they took them to Jaynie’s house.

They claimed to have informed West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi about this after which they took the five girls to Jaynie’s house on the pretext of counselling them. They told the DC that they had the permission of the girls’ parents.

The man who was accompanying the five girls was kept in custody for 24 hours and then released. No FIR was filed against him.

One of the victims, who is six months pregnant, said, “I was picked up by the activists, saying that the DC has authorised them to take us in their custody. They have assaulted me and said they will keep my baby with them.” She alleged the activists threatened that if they tried to run away, they would ask GNLA militants to kill them. “It seemed they had sent our pictures to them,” she adedd.

The “activists” claimed that the DC had authorised them to conduct raids and make arrests. They said they had approached him on Sunday.

Bakshi said, “I only asked them to provide information to the police and accompany them while raids were being conducted.”

Singh said, “The activists never approached us. We have no written or verbal information. We will go as per the law. It is a strong case of crime against women.”

On sex racket, Singh said, “If this is found out during investigation, we will deal with the matter accordingly.” He added, “It is not the duty of an NGO or activists to conduct raids. It is beyond their power. If somebody is creating nuisance in a public place, he/she can be arrested by the police only. The victims were not caught in the act.”