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Police vehicles torched

Tura, May 29: The death of a suspected overground worker of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), Witson M. Sangma, at Chokpot police station in South Garo Hills yesterday has angered the public.

The mob today torched three police vehicles and threw stones at the police station. The incident took place when police refused to allow them to hold a peaceful demonstration at Chokpot, about 60km from Tura.

About 3,000 people gathered for a meeting from nearby villages. It took over four hours to control the situation. The incident began at 10.30am and lasted till 3pm. Petrol bombs were used to set three police vehicles ablaze.

The angry mob even blocked the entry and exit to the road. A flag march was conducted by additional troops at 2.30pm, which pacified the situation. Curfew has been imposed in the entire Chokpot development block.

South Garo Hills SP Lakador Syiem confirmed the incident. “The people gathered around the police station and began pelting stones. They also burnt down three police vehicles. We were unable to use lathis as there were schoolchildren in the front of the crowd. The scene continued for more than four hours as the mob sporadically kept up their attack. The situation came under control with deployment of additional forces from Tura and Baghmara, which arrived around 2.30pm,” said Syiem.

Local residents said the police opened fire on the crowd. However, the district police chief of South Garo Hills has refuted the allegations. He said the police restrained themselves as they did not want the situation to go out of control.

Additional deputy commissioner of South Garo Hills T.G. Momin has instituted a magisterial probe into the death of Sangma.

“The body was brought yesterday to Baghmara as we have to follow the NHRC guidelines and post-mortem has to be performed within the stipulated time frame,” said Momin. Several NGOs have called for a judicial probe into the death of Sangma and Balsan Marak and will hold a non-cooperation movement for 12 hours beginning 5am on Monday.

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