Shillong, June 27: Police today arrested former Meghalaya minister Adolf Lu Hitler R. Marak on charges of maintaining links with a banned militant outfit.
Marak, who is a member of the Nationalist Congress Party and one of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma’s trusted aides, stands accused of allowing a government vehicle to be used by two members of the banned Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC).
The two militants, identified as Farooq R. Marak and Ashahel D. Shira, were arrested along with a Mizoram resident named Rongsanzuala at Weiloi, near the Indo-Bangladesh border, in April. Director-general of police L. Sailo said Marak had arranged for the government vehicle they were travelling in.
An official source said Marak had been booked under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Sections 121 and 121B of the IPC. He was taken into custody after being summoned to Laban police station.
However, Marak could not be produced in court because he was taken ill and admitted to Shillong Civil Hospital.
Marak had held the forest and environment portfolio in the erstwhile E.K. Mawlong government and was co-operation minister in the F.A. Khonglam ministry. He failed to retain the Rangsakona Assembly in the election early this year.
The former minister told reporters at the civil hospital that he was “innocent” and “taken aback” by the police’s sudden decision to arrest him. “I was always available for interrogation. Had I been in the wrong, I would have taken anticipatory bail and not responded to the police summons. I reiterate that I never tried to negotiate with militants because I am nobody to do so,” he said.
The police said the two militants arrested in April had been given the keys to the government vehicle to fetch Ronsangzuala, “an emissary” of Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga. The Mizo was returning from Bangladesh, where he had supposedly been sent to initiate a dialogue with ANVC chairman Dilash Marak.
Immediately after denying that he had contacted the ANVC, Marak contradicted himself by saying he had “tried to know the mind of the militant leadership”. He claimed Khonglam and former home minister Lotsing A. Sangma knew about it.
“I want peace to return. Therefore, when Zoramthanga contacted me to assist him, I did not refuse. I was about to meet some militant leaders, as I thought that if they (ANVC) want peace, they must talk to the government,” Marak said.
The former minister claimed the two arrested militants — now being officially referred to as surrendered rebels — were actually businessmen. “Farooq R. Marak, one of the so-called militants, is my nephew. If he and Shira are militants, they should have been arrested long ago. They were in Tura running small businesses,” he said.
NCP spokesman Edmund K. Sangma said the party’s high command had been informed about the developments. “We will move court for Marak’s bail and are confident that he is innocent. There are other ministers involved with militants. Why have they not been arrested' What about Kopin Chandra Boro, who has links with militants and is involved in his wife’s murder'” he asked.
Home minister Robert G. Lyngdoh said Marak’s arrest had “nothing to do with politics”.
In neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh, the state unit of the BJP today accused seven ministers in the Mukut Mithi government of having links with militants. A party delegation to New Delhi met Union minister of state for home Swami Chinmayanand and apprised him of the situation in Tirap district, where the government plans to launch a big counter-insurgency operation.