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Probe sought into assault

Shillong, June 11: An Opposition legislator today pressed for an independent inquiry into the alleged assault of 12 women at Tura in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills district.

Chokpot legislator Clifford R. Marak expressed doubt on whether the ongoing inquiries on the incident would materialise and whether erring officials would be punished.

“I am really doubtful because they (officers) will be defending themselves. Therefore, an independent body, headed either by a sitting or a retired judge, should be constituted else no true judgment will come out,” Marak said.

In her reply, social welfare minister Deborah C. Marak said West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi had constituted a magisterial inquiry headed by Dadenggre sub-divisional officer Sibhi C. Sadhu on May 10 to probe the incident. Sadhu was given 30 days to complete the inquiry while the Meghalaya State Women’s Commission had also conducted an inquiry on its own. The minister said the social welfare department would wait for the magisterial inquiry report before “taking further steps”. She also said it was improper to have too many inquiries.

Earlier, the department had assigned commissioner and secretary M.H.K. Marak with the task of conducting an inquiry. But it was put on hold pending the completion of the magisterial inquiry.

Marak said the five “activists”, who were arrested last month for allegedly confining and torturing the 12 women, were still in judicial custody. The activists have been charged under various sections of the IPC for kidnapping, criminal intimidation, wrongful confinement and others.

Militants held: Three alleged A’chik National United Front (ANUF) cadres, including a “commander”, were arrested by Meghalaya police from Shillong today. Two of their accomplices were also apprehended.

Police said based on intelligence inputs about the presence of the militants, special teams were keeping vigil on suspicious places and persons. The alleged militants were arrested after they tried to flee from the police. They were picked up from near Lady Keane College. Later, a raid was conducted at their residence in Lumparing, the police said.

The arrested have been identified as ANUF “commander” Cornelious N. Sangma, 27, from Goalpara, Debojit K. Marak, 20, and Sengkhan K. Marak, both from Waramja in North Garo Hills.

According to the government, the 10-member outfit was formed in October 2013.