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Purno to move Centre

- NPP chief takes a dig at Meghalaya chief minister as activists demand judicial probe into custodial death

Tura, May 21: National People’s Party (NPP) chief Purno Agitok Sangma will seek the Union home ministry’s intervention into the alleged police torture which led to the death of Balsan Marak, an accused in the torture case of 12 women. He was on judicial remand for 14 days.

“I condemn this incident, I will take up this matter with the home ministry,” said Purno Sangma over telephone from New Delhi. NPP leader Conrad Sangma, who visited his family today, conveyed Purno’s message to Marak’s family.

Purno also castigated chief minister Mukul Sangma. He said, “It is also unfortunate that while an incident of such a serious nature has occurred, the chief minister is camping in Delhi. This shows his complete lack of concern for the people of the state.”

The party has sought the resignation of the chief minister and the home minister.

“The chief minister and home minister should take moral responsibility for this incident. We also demand adequate compensation for the family of the victim,” Sangma said. The family has decided to seek a CBI probe into the incident.

Marak, 20, died yesterday at a government hospital here. He was arrested along with four others on May 13 for allegedly “influencing” one of the victims, who was held captive for eight days by activists Jaynie Ningring Sangma and others on the pretext of running a “sex racket”.

The activists and five other accomplices were charged with illegal confinement, kidnapping, criminal intimidation and torture of the 12 women. Marak was in judicial custody since May 14, along with four others, who were arrested in connection with the case.

Marak was admitted to hospital on Monday evening with fever, body ache, pain in the elbow acute suppurative otitis media, which results from bacterial infection of the middle ear cleft. Tura district jail medical officer Dr B.C. Paul said this is easily curable. According to the medical report, Marak had a swelling on the left forearm, which was a week old, and was not able to move his arm even before the arrest.

Though post-mortem has been conducted, it has not been disclosed to the media. The West Garo Hills SP said, “We are waiting for the post-mortem report. We are following all procedures required as per the National Human Rights Commission guidelines.”

Marak was laid to rest today in the presence of his family. Legislator Rophul S. Marak, a relative of Marak, said, “He was forced by the police to confess. He is innocent. We will take up the matter. We will approach the appropriate authority to provide justice to him.”

Reacting to the incident, Opposition chief whip James K. Sangma said, “It is so unfortunate that a young boy has lost his life. The police system has to be overhauled and revamped.”

Several NGOs today called for a two-hour shutdown from 3 to 5pm to condemn the custodial death.

Shops and business establishment remained closed. Many shops did not open even after the shutdown hour was over.

On Friday, the Garo Student’s Union has called for shutdown of all schools in Garo hills.

General secretary of GSU, Pinku Sangma, said, “We have called for the shutdown as a mark of protest. We demand justice for the boy.” He also isaid school administration can function.


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