Job of police is to prevent a crime, not kill: Rymbui
SHILLONG, Sep 14: In a statement that is likely to raise eyebrows, Home Minister, Lahkmen Rymbui on Tuesday said the police are mandated to prevent a crime and arrest the culprit but not kill the person.
“The job of the police is to prevent a crime and arrest the culprit. It is for the law enforcement agencies to gather evidence and produce it in the court,” Rymbui said.
He was replying to Opposition Chief Whip and Mawlai MLA, PT Sawkmie’s query if the instruction given was to arrest or kill former HNLC leader Cheristerfield Thangkhiew and how many policemen were involved in the pre-dawn operation.
When Mawsynram MLA, HM Shangpliang asked who had approved of the police raid, Rymbui said the police are mandated as per the law and since a case was registered and if there is any suspect, it is the duty of the police to nab the culprit, investigate and take the case to its logical end.
Countering another question from Shangpliang if it also means killing instead of arresting, Rymbui reiterated nobody has the right to kill. The duty of the police is to arrest the culprit, prevent the crime, build evidence and present it in the court, he said.
The Congress MLA had asked if the Home Minister was aware of the entire operation, Rymbui avoided a direct reply by stating, “We had received information that the blast will be triggered on August 10 and we alerted the police. We had credible inputs that more blasts will occur on the intervening night of August 12 and August 15. So, the police had to act to give necessary safety and security to the citizens.”
Replying to West Shillong MLA, Mohendro Rapsang’s supplementary question if the raid at Thangkhiew’s residence on August 13 was linked to the incident of blast, Rymbui said, “The lead was that he (Thangkhiew) was involved and as such, the police had taken a precautionary measure.”
When Rapsang asked why the police had to conduct the raid at 3 am, the Minister said, “The timing of the raid, arrest and urgency of the matter are for the police department to see. As there were inputs and they had to prevent, they carried it out at a particular time”.
Replying to another question from the MLA on whether there were inputs about the blast and the response and the measures taken to avoid such incidents, the Home Minister reiterated there were credible inputs about it but the place of occurrence was unexpected.
He claimed that there was no intelligence failure but admitted there were lapses to thwart the incident despite all precautionary measures.
The Mawlai MLA had accused the police of violating the CRPC as according to it, a sick person cannot be arrested before sunrise and after sunset but the Minister reiterated about the judicial probe ordered by the state government.
Rymbui also said that while the police have the responsibility to do what is needed to prevent a crime, the intention of the government is to ensure the safety and security of the citizens.
He said the field formations have been advised to gear up prior intelligence gathering to avert such incidents in the future.
He said the core unit from the police station level to beat house, the outposts have been sensitized to ensure that all security measures as per established procedures are taken into consideration in the day-to-day deployment in their respective areas and jurisdiction apart from the various strategies which need to be adopted on a case or situational basis.
He further said the specialized branches of the police department are also undertaking various stringent security measures to make sure that these incidents do not occur in the future and the law and order situation is closely monitored from time to time.
Replying to a query from East Shillong legislator Ampareen Lyngdoh, Rymbui said the IED used in the blast weighed 0.524 kg of high explosive commercial gelatin sticks and that three persons have been arrested so far. He said HNLC’s claim that it had carried out the explosion is also being investigated. When Leader of the Opposition, Mukul Sangma asked if the entire surrender process of Thangkhiew was done with the approval of the Political department, Rymbui said the government had followed the required process.
Sangma also asked about the status of inputs received about the slain former insurgent leader’s activities prior to the incident but Rymbui refused to reply.
“I will not give a reply as the circumstances leading to the incident was clearly spelled out in the government notification and I do not want to play judge on the issue,” he said.
When North Shillong MLA, Adelbert Nongrum, who did not get a specific reply to his query that if it was a shoot-at-sight order, he appeared visibly agitated. Objecting, Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma said such behaviour is not followed in the House.
“Don’t be shaky and do not be a coward…I want a clarity so that the citizens of the state know the mind of the government. I want to know if it was pre-planned and the order given was to arrest or shoot at sight,’’ Nongrum had thundered.
Not happy with Rymbui’s reply that the government has issued a notification, the Congress MLA had in a loud voice said, “The statement is contradictory to what the Home Minister and the DGP had said. Who do we believe?”
At this, the CM intervened stating that the Minister has time and again replied there is a judicial inquiry going on and it is inappropriate for him to reply. Sangma said the report should be awaited. He further said that a judicial inquiry is the most powerful inquiry and the government wants the truth to come out.