Meghalaya orders probe into killings of civilians by army

Shillong, Nov 27 (IANS) The Meghalaya government has ordered an inquiry into Wednesday night’s killings of two civilians by the army in North Garo Hills district, Home Minister Roshan Warjri said on Friday.

“We have ordered a magisterial inquiry headed by Additional District Magistrate David Sangma to probe the facts of the incident and circumstances under which the incident has happened,” Warjri told IANS.

The minister said the government has given three weeks’ time to Sangma to submit his findings to the government.

“Meghalaya Police have registered a criminal case. However, no arrest has been made as yet,” Warjri said.

Alphuis Momin, 35, a school teacher and Sweetbirth D. Marak, 30, residents of Rajasimla in North Garo Hills district, some 150 km from Meghalaya’s capital Shillong, were killed on Wednesday night by soldiers of Gorkha regiment near Konchikol area while they were returning home on a motorcycle.

Following the killings, the army admitted it was a mistake.

A probe has also been ordered by the army into the incident.

Defence ministry spokesman Lt Col Suneet Newton said the incident which occurred in Kharkutta area of North Garo Hills district was “primarily due to non-adherence of existing security instructions by the concerned civilians”.

There was information that two militants of the Garo National Liberation Army were moving in the area.

Several civil society groups, including Civil Society Women’s Organisation, and the opposition National People’s Party demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.

“We demanded the immediate arrest of soldiers involved in the incident, and the Meghalaya government to institute a judicial probe,” Garo Students’ Union president Tengsak G. Momin told IANS.

Condemning the killings, NPP leader Conrad K. Sangma, who visited the families of the two victims in Kharkutta, asked the ruling Congress to institute a judicial enquiry into the entire incident.

Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region, the most backward region, is used as a safe haven by various northeast-based rebel groups. According to official statistics, 87 people have been abducted by militants for ransom till October this year.

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