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Protests, rallies to rock Garo hills this week

Shillong, June 8: A silent protest rally, followed by a two-day 12-hour “non-cooperation movement”, will be observed in Meghalaya’s strife-torn Garo hills region next week.

The rally is to disapprove the brutal killing of a 35-year-old woman by militants while the “non-cooperation movement” will be to protest against the Meghalaya government’s “silence” on the recent custody deaths, and the death of a person in an alleged fake encounter in 2011.

Jospin M. Sangma was shot dead by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants at her home in Raja Ronggat under Chokpot in South Garo Hills district on Tuesday evening. The killing took place in front of her four children. The militants had branded Jospin a “police informer”.

Yesterday, students from the Garo hills who are residing in the state capital gathered at Khyndailad here to express solidarity with Jospin’s family.

At 3pm on Tuesday, the Mother’s Union will hold a rally at the Chandmary playground in Tura, West Garo Hills, to protest against the gruesome killing.

The Garo Students’ Union (GSU), while offering support to the rally, has asked the state government to hike the ex gratia payment to Jospin’s family from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.

In a statement issued today, GSU president Tengsak G. Momin said since there has been “silence” over the demands made by NGOs on the recent twin custody deaths, and the alleged fake encounter killing of Washington N. Marak, a “non-cooperation movement” would be observed on Thursday and Friday in the five districts of the Garo hills region.

On both days, there will be a 12-hour shutdown from 5am to 5pm, Momin said. A similar shutdown was held on June 2.

Regarding the twin custody deaths, which took place in Tura and Chokpot last month, the GSU and other NGOs had demanded a CBI probe while asking for the suspension of those police personnel who were allegedly responsible.

Momin said the groups had also demanded an independent autopsy report, and the establishment of a “psychological profiling centre” to provide help to police personnel suffering from “trauma or psychological problems”.

“The government has not corresponded with us on the demands made to ensure justice to the victims, and on the initiatives that could prevent further death of innocents in police custody,” the GSU president said.

Moreover, he said the NGOs of Williamnagar led by the GSU had accused the state government of failing to comply with the directive given by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to compensate the next of kin of the slain labourer, Washington N. Marak.

Marak, 50, originally from Sasatgre village, around 300km from here, was killed in an alleged fake encounter at Rongrekgre village near Williamnagar across the Simsang river under East Garo Hills district on January 26, 2011.

The police had claimed that he was a GNLA member. The incident had sparked protests in Garo hills.

“It has been more than three years since the victim was killed in a fake encounter and yet no justice has been provided, which has not only hurt the sentiments of the Garo community but also compelled us to lose all hope. The law needs to be upheld and the guilty needs to be punished,” Momin said.


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