Garo Hills situation: Purno seeks Modi’s intervention

NPP knocks on NHRC door over rights violations in Meghalaya

NPP leaders submit a memorandum to NHRC Chairman Justice K.G. Balakrishnan on  human rights violation in Meghalaya, in New Delhi on Friday.
NPP leaders submit a memorandum to NHRC Chairman Justice K.G. Balakrishnan on
human rights violation in Meghalaya, in New Delhi on Friday.

SHILLONG: National People’s Party (NPP) chief Purno Agitok Sangma on Saturday raised the issue of the violations of law and order and human rights in the Garo Hills with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While the Government had failed to understand the ground realities leading to the violence, the police were resorting to brutal methods to contain it, he said.

The NPP chief took up the matter with the Prime Minister after he forwarded to him a copy of the memorandum on the violation of the human rights which was submitted to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

“I urge upon the Prime Minister to kindly instruct the relevant authorities to take necessary and appropriate action,” Sangma said in a letter addressed to Modi.

In the memorandum submitted to the NHRC Chairman, the former Lok Saba Speaker said that the Garo Hills region had seen a sharp deterioration in the law and order situation prevailing in the area.

“Many underground and militant outfits have mushroomed in the region in the past few years which has led to the deterioration of law and order in the State. The last three years has seen over 22 outfits that have come up in Garo Hills and more than 97 people have lost their life from 2010 to 2013,” Sangma said.

He said that in the recent past, there had been many incidents of violence and growth of underground groups in the Garo Hills which had affected the daily lives of the common people.

“The State Government has not taken any steps to curb the violence and has failed miserably in containing the situation. On the other hand, the police department has been using brutal force to try and bring the situation under control without really understanding the ground realities,” the NPP chief said.

Pointing out that these problems were more related to the socio-economic factors, he said that they had always stressed that the Government must adopt a multi-pronged strategy to fight the menace.

According to him, the Government must have programmes of rehabilitation, counselling, job creation and overall economic empowerment along with different police operations.

He said it was because of this narrow approach of the State Government and the brutal force of the police department which had led to many incidents of human rights violation where innocent people had been tortured and some even died in police custody.

“These incidents of torture instead of improving the situation has only lead to it getting worse. Many innocent people have been tortured which has led to people’s anger rising against the establishment,” the NPP chief said.

Citing an example, the former Lok Sabha Speaker said that on May 20, Balsan Marak was a victim of this brutality of the State police.

“He (Balsan) was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a kidnapping case and on this basis, the police tortured and beat him so badly that he died in custody,” Sangma said.

The NPP chief said that another incident occurred on May 27 in Chokpot village in Garo Hills where Witson M Sangma died while in police custody because of extreme torture.

“We sincerely urge upon the Commission to take necessary steps to ensure an inquiry is done in both the incidents. We would also want measures to be taken to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future,” he said. He also pointed out that strict action must be taken against those police officers involved in these inhumane activities.

A delegation of the NPP consisting of former MP Agatha K Sangma, former Rajya Sabha MP Thomas A Sangma and former MLA Conrad K Sangma had met Justice Balakrishnan earlier in May to apprise him of the recent incidents of custodial death in Garo Hills.

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