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Protest over custody death

- Schools, colleges shut; GNLA demands judicial probe
A deserted school at Tura on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

Tura, May 23: Schools and colleges in Garo hills today remained closed in protest against the custodial death of Balsan S. Marak on Tuesday. A conglomeration of NGOs, headed by the Garo Students’ Union, called the shutdown.

The NGOs will also take out a rally at Chandmari playground here, next Tuesday, to condemn the death and demand a judicial probe into the incident.

Marak, 20, was arrested along with two others, including a minor, on May 13.

They were arrested on the basis of an FIR filed by a victim of torture, who was held captive for eight days, by activists led by Jaynie Ningring Sangma, on the outskirts of Tura town. Altogether five persons were arrested in connection with the case from Tura the same day.

Marak and three others were held on charges of abetment and criminal intimidation and were sent to 14 days’ judicial remand. Of the five men arrested three will be produced in court on Monday.

The minor will be tried separately under the Juvenile Justice Act.

A magisterial probe, including a high-level probe headed by commissioner of division (Garo hills), P.W. Ingty is on.

Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, however, has ruled out a judicial probe. He said the government would wait for the report of the current probe. The bail plea of the “activists” was rejected by the magistrate’s court here.

The activists — Jaynie, Babiana M. Sangma, Merryln D. Shira, Konica S. Sangma and Lonavi R. Sangma — will be produced in court on June 3. The bail petitions of the activists were rejected on two occasions — May 11 and May 19. The court has extended their judicial remand to 14 days.

West Garo Hills superintendent of police Mukesh Singh refused to comment on the chargesheet against the activists as the matter is under investigation. The district medical and health officer has submitted Marak’s port-mortem report to deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi. “The report will be submitted before the inquiry,” said Bakshi.

GNLA outcry

The Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) blamed chief minister Mukul Sangma for the extra-judicial killing of Balsan Marak and demanded a CBI or judicial probe into the incident in the next three days, failing which a two-day bandh will be called in Garo hills.

The outfit’s political affairs secretary, Bikdot Nikjang Marak, in a statement issued here said, “Mukul is a notorious underworld criminal with links to militants. The killing of Balsan is a result of the Lok Sabha poll debacle, which has been staged by him.”

“This case must be handed over to the CBI. AIIMS should conduct forensic test on Balsan,” said Bikdot.

The outfit refused to buy the medical report of district jail medical officer, Dr B.C. Paul. “Paul is involved in concealing and tampering (with) evidence, henceforth immediate arrest of Paul (sic) if necessary,” he added.

The statement said Mukul is after ‘activist’ Jaynie Ningring Sangma, who trying to bust a “sex racket” involving some top politicians, businessmen and government officers. “It is shocking that due to mistaken identity, an innocent was killed,” said Bikdot.

The outfit is of the view that the probe should be placed under the jurisdiction of the court and not the government.

They have named West Garo Hills SP Mukesh Singh, additional SP Bruno A. Sangma and their PSOs as the prime suspect in the killing and demanded their arrest.

Stating that the magisterial probe would go in favour of the government, the statement said, “It is worthless for free and fair justice. We don’t expect anything from the probe or the judicial inquiry.”


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