Two held for murder attempt on Meghalaya rights activist, BJYM for CBI probe

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Shillong, Nov 9 (IANS) Two persons were arrested on Friday in the murder attempt on a women’s rights activist, Agnes Kharshiing, and two others in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district.

Condemning the murder attempt on Civil Society Women’s Organisation president, Agnes Kharshiing and her two aides at Sohshrieh, a coal belt area of East Jaintia Hills district, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) has demanded a CBI or judicial probe.

“We demand a CBI or judicial probe into the attack and also to find out if there is a conspiracy between coal mafia and authorities (police or politicians) to instigate and provoke the mob,” BJYM President Egenstar Kurkalang said.

The BJYM also asked the government to provide free medical treatment to Kharshiing and her aide Amita Sangma.

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Demanding immediate arrest of the attackers, Kurkalang said, “All these problems (Thursday’s attacks) have arisen from a ban on coal mining. The government should speed up the mining policy in the best interest of the public and the society of Meghalaya.”

The suspects, Elphon Dkhar and Meklison Siangshai, were arrested in Kongong area in a pre-dawn raid.

“A suo moto case was taken up by police since the victims are not in a position to file an FIR as they are in a serious condition. We are interrogating the two accused and a manhunt is on to arrest the other attackers,” said Sylvester Nongtnnger, police chief of East Jaintia Hills.

Meanwhile, officials at the North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) said Agnes Kharshiing was in a “critical condition” while the other two persons — her aide Amita Sangma and their driver E Kurbah — were stable.

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“Kharshiing is on ventilator. The condition of Sangma is stable, while the driver was discharged,” NEIGRIHMS spokesperson K.K. Pandita said.

On Thursday, Kharshiing, along with Sangma and Kurbah were brutally assaulted by a group of some 40 people after the activist lodged a complaint on the illegal mining and transportation of coal in the district.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014, after the All Dimasa Students’ Union and Dinasa Hasao District Committee filed an application before it alleging that the water of the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in the Jaintia Hills.

Several political and non-governmental organisation leaders have condemned the attack on Kharshiing and her aides.

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“The government should punish those responsible as per law,” said Meghalaya State Commission for Women Chairperson Theilin Phanbuh.

The attack on Kharshiing was the second such incident on a social activist in the district.

On March 19, RTI activist Poipynhun Majaw, who was the president of the Jaintia Youth Federation, was found murdered in Khliehriat, the district headquarters of East Jaintia Hills.



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