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CSWO claims report ‘biased’

Shillong, July 13: The Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO), which has been accused of torturing 12 girls in Tura, has hit out at the Meghalaya State Commission for Women, and suggested that the commission’s findings were “biased”.

On Friday, the commission released its findings on the incident where 12 girls were allegedly held captive and tortured by “social activists” in Tura, West Garo Hills, in May.

These 12 girls, who were branded “call girls” by the “activists”, were allegedly detained, tortured and assaulted in the rented accommodation of one of the “activists”, Jaynie Ningring Sangma, at Daldagre in Tura.

According to the commission, the girls were reportedly picked up from vehicles at Chasingre, Orchid lodge at Asanang and from their respective homes at intervals on different dates.

The girls were kept at Jaynie’s rented house from May 1 to May 8, the commission said. In the findings, among others, the commission had pointed out that the NGOs involved in the incident were the Civil Society Women’s Organisation, A’chik Mothers’ Association and Garo Hills Sentinel for Human Rights.

“The CSWO is not surprised that the commission had come out with a report on the 12 tortured girls that seems to be biased and all out against certain groups and individuals and does not go by the merit of the case,” CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing said in a statement.

She also expressed surprise that the commission had “failed” to inquire into the circulation of the girls’ photographs.

“The photographs were taken against the will of the girls. After their medical examination on May 8, the girls should have been sent home to their families,” she said.

Moreover, she said the allegation of illegal detention and torture by NGOs should be thoroughly investigated.

“There is no dispute about that, but the CSWO fails to understand why the police at Tura have also illegally detained these girls after the medical examination, and allowed the girls to be stripped the next day, and their photographs, degrading their modesty, were allowed to be taken. Was this not a matter of concern for this commission?” Kharshiing asked.

Further, she said the police could not have taken orders from a group of NGOs as they are guided by certain procedures, and the “feeble excuse” of the commission to protect the police is “shocking”.

On West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi, the CSWO claimed that the former had known about the presence of the girls in the house of one of the activists, yet he did not take action.

“Here too, the commission protected him (Bakshi). Why did he send a team of the district child protection unit, which belongs to the social welfare department, and why was there no mention or action against the district child protection unit team for giving a delayed report when they knew (that) the girls were being tortured?” she questioned.

If all records were made available, Kharshiing threatened that the CSWO would file a complaint against the commission members who were involved for “abetting” the destruction of evidence in the torture of the 12 girls to help the police.