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Congress demands MHRC inquiry into death of militant in encounter

The opposition Congress has demanded an inquiry by the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission (MHRC) to ascertain the facts behind the ''encounter-style'' killing of a dreaded militant by the police.

Congress demands MHRC inquiry into death of militant in encounter
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East Garo Hills

Former general secretary of the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) – Cheristerfied Thangkhiew – who had surrendered in 2018 was shot dead in an encounter with the police at his home in Mawlai here in the early hours of Friday, three days after the HNLC triggered an IED blast behind a busy market area of the city. 

''Serious allegations are being raised by the citizens on the police operation which resulted in the death of a surrendered militant. An independent inquiry conducted by the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission is necessary to ascertain the actual facts from both the police and the victim's family,'' Congress secretary and former minister Ampareen Lyngdoh said in a statement. 

''This may not be impartial in the view of the members of the public,'' she said, adding that the ''encounter-style'' death has sparked public outcry and debates on the style of handling the sensitive matter. 

Terming the incident as ''unfortunate'', the Congress leader said, "This incident should not distract us from the heinous attack carried out by the HNLC on innocent citizens and the Meghalaya Police must arrest any accused according to the law." The HNLC had owned up the IED blast in the city on Tuesday in which two persons, including a woman were injured. 

Last month, a heavy IED went off at a police barrack in Khliehriat injuring one police personnel and damaging buildings. 

The former militant's involvement in the recent IED attack in the state capital is under investigation and he is suspected to be the mastermind of the sporadic IED attacks since his surrender in 2018, an official said. 

Chesterfield Thangkhiew, a founding leader of the HNLC, had assumed the post of the general secretary of the organisation till his surrender in 2018. 

Meanwhile, Meghalaya Director General of Police R Chandranathan said that investigations into the serial IED blasts in the state have revealed the involvement of drug addicts and over-ground workers of the outlawed HNLC to carry out their nefarious activities. 

He said the police have identified over 30 over-ground workers who are "sympathisers" for the activities of the insurgent outfit. 

''We noticed in the Khliehriat (IED blast) incident last month, one of the arrested persons - the boy who lit the fuse - was a drug addict. And most of the boys who were picked up and arrested were over-ground cadres,'' Chandranathan told journalists on Friday. While there are only 16 cadres in their few bases in Bangladesh, the DGP said, adding that police have identified over 30 over-ground workers. 

The police chief said that the police are trying their level best to address the issue of IED attacks and urged the citizens to be cautious of abandoned items and to inform the police if they see one lying unattended.

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