5,000 villagers involved in lynching of four prisoners: Meghalaya Govt
The Meghalaya government on Monday said that over 5,000 villagers were involved in the lynching of four of the six prisoners on Sunday afternoon, a day after they had escaped from the Jowai district jail in West Jaintia Hills district.
Meghalaya home minister Lahkmen Rymbui, making a suo motu statement in the state Assembly on the jailbreak and the subsequent lynching, said that “around 5,000 plus from different unknown villages” were on “hot pursuit” of the four escapees who “converged into a forest away from the Shangpung village” in the district on Sunday afternoon.
“ ...A police team proceeded to the place of occurrence (PO) but was vehemently prevented by the unruly mob. The police team tried to negotiate and confront the mob to proceed to the PO to prevent the attack on the four escapees.
'However, after many confrontations with the mob to the effect that many policemen also got injured, the police team managed to retrieve and remove the unconscious escapees from the PO to the civil hospital in Jowai... it was declared by the medical officer that all four have been brought dead,” Rymbui said.
Sources said Ramesh had gone to fetch food from near the village when somebody identified him and alerted others. Soon villagers of nearby areas started mobilising themselves against the escapees and launch the fatal assault.
Sources said the villagers were angry and worried about the jailbreak because five of the escapees were involved in at least 10-12 murder cases.
Last month Talang and Ramesh were involved in the alleged murder of two taxi drivers, who were also local residents. “So there was a pent-up anger and we feel the jailbreak only compounded the anger,” the official said.
However, the home minister made an appeal in the state assembly to the people at large not to take the law into their hands and allow the law to take its course.
The place of occurrence is about 20km from the jail which is about 65km east of the state capital Shillong. The area is mostly forested.
The deceased included three undertrial prisoners — I love You Talang, Lodestar Tang, Shidorki Dkhar (all murder accused) — and a murder convict Marsanki Tariang, the government said.
Another prisoner, Ramesh Dkhar (murder accused) managed to escape the mob but was arrested on Monday afternoon near the lynching site near Shangpung village in the district.
The prisoner is still at large after his escape from the District Prison and Correctional Services, Jowai, on Saturday afternoon, is Rikmenlang Lamare (booked for theft). He was not in the group that was attacked, the home minister said.
All the prisoners hailed from the West Jaintia Hills district.
The state government has ordered two inquiries — a magisterial inquiry to be conducted by an additional district magistrate and an independent probe into the “reasons and circumstances” leading to the jailbreak by the additional SP of the district.
Police have arrested five prison staff members for alleged negligence and involvement in the jailbreak. They have been identified as Rajesh Swer, Pyndapbor Bamaon, Champmilan Kynjing and Damelahun Sun and Alexius Iawram.