Govt orders magisterial inquiry into Cherishterfield encounter

The ex-militant was killed in an “encounter” that took place on the wee hours of August 13 at his residence at Mawlai Kynton Massar.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Saturday informed that a magisterial enquiry will be constituted into the “retaliatory firing” that killed the ex-general secretary of the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), Cherishsterfield Thangkhiew on August 13.

“The magisterial enquiry report will be submitted to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and based on that, the Commission will take a call on the next course of action,” Sangma said, adding that the East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police has submitted the report as mandated by the NHRC within 48 hours. “The NHRC is an independent body and reports will be submitted to them. It is an appropriate body to look into the case,” the CM said.

The ex-militant was killed in an “encounter” that took place on the wee hours of August 13 at his residence at Mawlai Kynton Massar. Police have maintained that they had conducted the raid “with an intention to arrest Thangkhiew” after receiving “incontrovertible” evidence of his involvement in the blasts.

Justifying the police’s claim, Sangma stressed that the police’s intention was not to harm anyone but make the arrest. “The arrest would have been beneficial for the police department to get more credible inputs on the threat that is looming large. But, circumstances led to the unfortunate incident,” he said.

The CM further added that the decision to move “swiftly” and arrest Thangkhiew was based on evidence received from intelligence that another IED blast will be attempted in Shillong in the next few days. “Post the Khliehriat and Laitumkhrah blasts, the police had made a specific strategy of operation but when the intel on an attempt to plant another IED in the city was received, the police moved swiftly otherwise lives could be lost,” Sangma said, adding that it was a tactical move to conduct the raid at 3 am.

“In any investigation, if the leads are broken then it becomes difficult to get the desired results. In this case, the timing was critical and therefore, when the credible information came in, police had to move swiftly,” the CM added.

When asked whether the threat of another IED blast has now been neutralised, Sangma said, “We are working on that; we are moving forward in every way possible. Yes, the police are on high alert to ensure that peace and law and order are maintained.”

Meghalaya Director General of Police (DGP) R Chandranathan said that claims of Cherishster’s sons being thrashed by the police are simply “allegations”. “Since they were present there at the time when the raid was conducted, the police needed to question and verify the facts – subsequently, they were released.”

Sangma informed that the government has not received any recent letter regarding the peace talks from the proscribed outfit. “The last letter we received from HNLC was in January and we had discussed the issue multiple times within the government and also with the Centre,” he said, adding that a few conditions listed on the letter weren’t acceptable to the Centre and it had requested HNLC to submit another letter. “This was communicated to the HNLC and we were told that they would submit another letter without those conditions and move in a line that is within the constitutional framework – but the letter did not come,” he said.

(Edited by Ibankyntiew Mawrie)

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