Tura, May 21: Several NGOs, spearheaded by Garo Students Union, today dashed off a memorandum to chief minister Mukul Sangma demanding a judicial probe into the custodial death of Balsan Marak and constituting psychological counselling cells in police stations.
Marak died in a government hospital yesterday.
The NGOs have demanded that those involved in the assault, which led to the death of Balsan, be immediately suspended and terminated. They also demanded departmental action and contempt of court proceedings against those who failed to follow the directives.
They have also demanded installation of CCTVs in all the rooms in police stations with recording facility, so that police personnel cannot “callously” torture inmates or prisoners.
The letter said, “It is with great understanding and hope that we feel that justice will prevail, should the highest executive office of the state seriously regard the issue of continuous deaths of undertrial prisoners in police or judicial custody in Meghalaya as an anathema to the democratic system, wherein the fundamental right of an Indian citizen is callously disregarded in the event of over- zealous exercise of power by government servant(s) which causes the death of a citizen.”
The NGOs have stated that custodial death of Balsan Marak is not an isolated incident; there have been many such cases of extra-judicial killings and murders.
The activists said in their letter that Balsan Marak and Pohit Marak, a driver, were not involved in the women torture case. They pointed out that Balsan and Pohit were only accompanying Jaynie Ningring Sangma’s son, a minor, to help a friend.
The activists said the arrests of Balsan and Pohit were beyond the pale of justice.
“Balsan was innocent. He came to Tura on the insistence of his friend to help him. His only involvement was that he was waiting for his friend near Tura police station. No FIR was filed against him nor any case registered,” the activists stated in their letter to the chief minister.
The letter also stated that Balsan’s family came to know about his arrest when his family members went to the police station to file a missing report the next day (May 14).
Balsan and two others were arrested on May 13 based on an FIR filed by one of the victims, who is six months pregnant.
Five men were arrested in connection with the case, apart from five “activists” on May 9 for illegal confinement, torture, kidnapping and criminal intimidation of 12 women.
The letter questioned why the police did not inform Balsan’s family about his arrest within 8-12 hours. That is the norm as per directives of the Supreme Court.
On Balsan’s family seeking his bail on medical grounds on May 14, which was denied, the letter asked, “If pus was oozing from his left ear and the case was complicated, why did the doctors from the civil hospital not inform the jail authorities?”
The letter also goes to point out that Balsan was admitted to the hospital in a very serious condition. “Balsan was carried from the vehicle on a towel to the hospital,” the letter stated.
The hospital superintendent said Balsan was admitted in a stable condition on May 19.
Referring to the bruise marks and injuries on chest and neck, the letter alleged that it was a “clear case of physical assault”.