|Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma addresses reporters in Shillong on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos
June 4: The killing of Josbina Sangma when, according to her mother’s statement to police, she resisted an alleged rape attempt by GNLA militants, has come as a shock to many, as such crimes by militants are rarely witnessed in the region.
In the event of rapes, most militant organisations in the Northeast seem to have a code of honour and are not known to target women.
Though there have been cases of women cadres being killed for working against the interest of their outfits, rape has very rarely been the case.
“We have zero tolerance for sexual crimes against women committed by our cadres,” Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa told The Telegraph.
“We had never compromised on such crimes and the rules of our organisation are very clear in this regard: only death penalty for rape. If we receive any such allegation, an inquiry is conducted and if our cadre is found guilty he is awarded death penalty,” Rajkhowa said.
“Harsh punishment is meted out also to those found to be involved in molestation and other such crimes against women,” he said.
On the Garo hills incident, he said that he doesn’t have the details of the incident and if what is reported in the media is true then it could be the result of moral degeneration of a section of new generation cadres of the militant outfits.
“I doubt how much belief they have in the ideologies of their respective outfits,” Rajkhowa said.
Self-styled political affairs secretary of GNLA Bikdot Nikjang Marak, in a statement issued today, claimed that the GNLA had verified and confirmed that the woman was the police source and she was responsible for the death of their training instructor Kram.
“The group of cadres was on a mission to eliminate this woman. She fled but on the fateful day she came back and got executed. GNLA shall never spare anyone if he or she is responsible for death of our cadres,” the GNLA statement said.
Like Ulfa, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) also awards capital punishment to rapists though such incidents take place rarely. In December, the NSCN (I-M) awarded capital punishment to a cadre who had molested two young women near Zunheboto while they were travelling in a taxi.
Deputy kilo kilonser (home minister) in Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim (GPRN), Samson Jojo, said they usually execute rapists. “If People’s Revolutionary Court found anyone guilty it would be a capital punishment”, he said adding that the GPRN would not compromise with crimes like rape, adding that such an act is a heinous crime and should be dealt with a heavy hand.
There were, however, no reported case of rape or attempt to rape on two militant groups —Bodoland Liberation Tigers and NDFB.
S. Sanjarang, a senior member of the NDFB (P), who are in ceasefire with the Centre, said that the outfit has its own constitution and moral code where it stated that members of the NDFB should not take liberties with the opposite sex and “there were no such incidence of crimes against women in our organisations.” A senior former BLT member said: “Our organisations had strict rule on crime against women. Death penalty is the ultimate punishment of such crime.”
Manipur’s militant outfits have a record of awarding capital punishment for its cadres and also a strong code against rape by anyone.
Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak shot dead one of its cadres, identified as Thongam Herojit alias Thouba, 31, in November 2006 for his involvement in a case of gang-rape of two women in Thoubal district. The cadre along with three others (not cadre) “gang-raped” the women.
In another case, the same outfit awarded capital punishment to one of its cadres identified as Henry for murdering his girlfriend after physical relationship in Imphal West in September 2005.
The United National Liberation Front also reportedly has a firm stand against atrocities against women. The UNLF announced capital punishment for rapists, who assaulted a trader in Bishnupur district in March 2004. The four were convicted by an Imphal court and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Peoples Liberation Army also awarded capital punishment for rapists (not cadres) in the past, sources said. Sources closed to the militant United National Liberation Front (UNLF) in Manipur said the party had a code for addressing “oppressed genders” (meaning women) as a part of their “national liberation” struggle, for bringing equality to one and all in society.
The sources were of the view that the GNLA cadres, who assaulted and murdered the woman should be given befitting punishment, as the crime was unpardonable. An ex-leader of the militant Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak), Ngamdairen said the party had a law that a rape accused, even if he is its cadre, would be tried by a “people’s court” (that is what the militants call their “court”) and awarded capital punishment if found guilty. He further said the accused in the Meghalaya case should not escape severe punishment.