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  • Meghalaya

    1. Overview. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces 2
    a. Deprivation of right to life. 2
    b. Arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and torture. 2
    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs 3
    4. Ethnic conflicts 3
    5. Violations of the prisoners' rights 4


    1. Overview

    Ruled by Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance, Meghalaya's human rights protection record remained grim. The ceasefire agreement signed on 23 July 2004 between the State government and the proscribed Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) was extended by another six months on 17 January 2005[1] and again for a year with effect from 22 July 2005.[2] 

    The law enforcement personnel were responsible for gross human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, torture and extrajudicial killing of civilians. The extrajudicial killing of at least nine tribal students at Williamnagar in East Garo Hills district and at Tura in West Garo Hills district in indiscriminate firing by the Central Reserve Police Force personnel on 30 September 2005[3] was a case of gross human rights violation. The state government ordered separate judicial enquiries into the firing incidents in December 2005.[4]

    The freedom of the press was systematically muzzled. On 10 June 2005, two editors, Padmashree Manas Chaudhuri of The Shillong Times and Mr MA Venugopal, the executive editor of The Meghalaya Guardian were harassed by the Meghalaya police after publication of news reports related to the displacement of the Khasi families at Lumdorbar and its communal repercussion in Meghalaya.[5]

    The armed opposition groups often violated ceasefire agreements and indulged in extortion.

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India recorded 33 complaints against police personnel in the State during 2005. Departmental inquiries were instituted in 27 cases, while magisterial inquiries were instituted in 6 cases. Disciplinary actions were taken against 81 police personnel, major punishment was awarded to 24 police personnel while minor punishment was awarded to 170 police personnel.[6]

    a. Deprivation of right to life

    The NCRB recorded death of one person in police custody in Meghalaya during 2005.[7]

    The NHRC had recorded 2 deaths in police custody in the state during 2004-2005.[8]

    The police and the Central paramilitary forces were responsible for indiscriminate use of fire-arms. According to National Crime Records Bureau, 25 civilians were killed and 75 civilians injured in police firing during 2005.[9]

    On 29 September 2005, one Linus Sungoh was shot dead by the police in an alleged fake encounter in Khliehriat sub-division.[10]

    On 30 September 2005, at least nine tribal students were killed –five students at Williamnagar in East Garo Hills district and 4 students at Tura in West Garo Hills district in indiscriminate firing by the CRPF personnel while they were protesting against the transfer of the headquarters of the Meghalaya Board of Secondary Education from Tura to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya.[11] Although a judicial probe was announced  immediately after the incident, the state government of Meghalaya appointed two retired judges - Justice DN Baruah and Justice DN Chaudhuri in December 2005- to inquire into the firing incidents. The judges were given 60 days time to submit their reports.[12] Video clippings available with the Asian Centre for Human Rights show that the security personnel were firing by keeping the guns above their shoulders to cause maximum damage. The security forces fired not to control the mob but to kill innocent people.

    b. Arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and torture

    The police and the Central paramilitary forces were responsible torture. On 2 August 2005, about 18 civilians were beaten with batons and hit with rifles butts by the Central Reserve Police Force personnel of 114th Battalion from Dakopgre camp in retaliatory attack after a CRPF driver was stabbed by an unidentified person at Araimile market in Tura. They reportedly sustained injuries.[13] A magisterial enquiry was ordered into the incident.[14]

    On 15 October 2005, a senior medical doctor, Debasis Sarkar was beaten with batons by a large group of CRPF personnel led by M I Singh and local police personnel at his house at Tura Bazar for keeping a pile of sand outside the door of his house for construction purpose. He sustained severe bruises all over his body besides a fracture on his right hand.[15]

    Failure to provide information about the armed opposition groups could invite the wrath of the police. On the night of 20 December 2005, Grammar Syiemlieh of Pyndensohsaw village near Balat in East Khasi Hills was allegedly tortured by the police for failing to provide information about his younger brother Bahheh Iong, a senior cadre of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council. He was beaten up, taken to a place called Riat Mawniuh and asked to jump into a deep gorge at gun point. He was released the next day and admitted to the Civil Hospital with both internal and external injuries.[16]

    The police were responsible for arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and torture. Even children were not spared. In February 2005, a 12-year-old boy was allegedly tortured in police custody by N Islam, Officer-in-Charge of Hallydiganj police outpost in West Garo Hills district without any reason. The boy reportedly sustained a fracture in his right leg due to the beating.[17]

    3. Violations of international humanitarian laws by the AOGs

    The major AOGs in Meghalaya included Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC).[18]

    The armed opposition groups (AOGs) were responsible for torture and extortion. The ANVC allegedly extorted from local coal barons and other businessmen in South and East Garo Hills in violation of the ceasefire agreement. The police sources said that the 70-odd ANVC cadres, who had put up at the two camps at Samada and Chokpot following the signing of the ceasefire, constituted just 25 per cent of the outfit's total strength. The rest of the activists were allegedly indulging in rampant extortion.[19]

    4. Ethnic conflicts

    Block I and II areas in Karbi Anglong district of Assam remained a disputed area between Assam and Meghalaya for a long time. In 1951, these areas had been transferred to the Karbi Anglong (then called United Mikir and North Kachar Hills) after slicing them from the erstwhile Khasi and Jaintia Hills district and these remained with Assam even after the birth of Meghalaya in 1972. Since then the Khasi-Pnars of the area have often expressed their desire to be a part of Meghalaya. While the Khasi-Pnars faced atrocities from the Karbis in Assam, the Khasis often retaliated against the Karbis in Meghalaya. The conflict led to frequent internal displacement.

    On 10 March 2005, cadres of the armed opposition groups- Karbi National Volunteers (KNV) and United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS)- armed with sophisticated weapons went to Lamalong market at Mawhati in Ri-Bhoi district in Block-II and assaulted four persons after threatening them at gunpoint.[20] Earlier, on 5 March 2005, armed Karbi militants of UPDS and KNV looted the Khasi-Pnar residents of Moolber village in the disputed Block-I area in Jaintia Hills.[21] 

    On 7 June 2005, the Joint Action Co-ordination Committee of Meghalaya issued quit notice to all Karbis residing in the state to leave immediately in retaliation to alleged burning down of 27 houses belonging to Khasis at Lumdorbar in Block-II of Karbi Anglong district by the Assam government on 6 June 2005. As many as 220 people were displaced by the drive and they were given temporary shelter at Umsaw under Raid Tyrso in Ri-Bhoi District.[22] They were not rehabilitated till the year's end.[23] On the contrary, they were served with a-month notice to vacate the land by the land owners in November 2005.[24] Following the quit notice several Karbi students left Shillong and Karbi houses were reportedly torched in Ri-Bhoi district.[25]

    5. Violations of the prisoners' rights

    The NHRC recorded 6 deaths in judicial custody during 2004-2005.[26]

    On 5 December 2005, Krolin Kharkongngor from Lawmei near Sohiong was declared brought dead due to cardiac arrest at Shillong Civil Hospital after he allegedly collapsed in the district jail after his arrest by police a day before in connection with selling of illicit liquor.[27]



    [1]. ANVC truce extended by six months, The Sentinel, 18 January 2005

    [2]. 2005-2006 Annual Report of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India 

    [3]. 9 die in Meghalaya police firing, The Hindu, 1 October 2005

    [4]. Probe into Tura, W'nagar firing - Judges get 60 days time, The Shillong Times, 6 January 2006

    [5]. Report on fleeing Khasi families gets two editors into trouble, The Pioneer, 13 June 2005

    [6]. 2005-Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [7]. Ibid

    [8]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India

    [9]. 2005-Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [10]. Sungoh killing: Ultimatum to DC, The Sentinel, 30 September 2005

    [11]. 9 die in Meghalaya police firing, The Hindu, 1 October 2005

    [12]. Probe into Tura, W'nagar firing - Judges get 60 days time, The Shillong Times, 6 January 2006

    [13]. Tura bandh protests CRPF high-handedness, The Shillong Times, 4 August 2005

    [14]. Probe ordered into Araimile incident, The Assam Tribune, 5 August 2005

    [15]. Senior doctor assaulted by security personnel, The Shillong Times, 17 October 2005

    [16]. One hospitalised after police torture, The Shillong Times, 23 December 2005

    [17]. Boy tortured, The Shillong Times, 15 February 2005

    [18]. Annual Report of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, http://mha.nic.in/Annual-Reports/ar0506-Eng.pdf

    [19].  ‘ANVC indulging in extortion despite truce', The Sentinel, 4 February 2005

    [20]. Karbi ultras continue harassment in Block-II, The Shillong Times, 14 March 2005

    [21]. Karbi militants loot Jaintia Hills village, The Shillong Times, 10 March 2005

    [22]. Eviction tables turned on Karbis, The Telegraph, 8 June 2005

    [23]. Move on for safe return of Lum Dorbar refugees, The Sentinel, 21 December 2005

    [24]. Khasi refugees look like nobody's child, The Sentinel, 30 November 2005

    [25]. More Karbi students flee city, The Shillong Times 9 June 2005

    [26]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India

    [27]. One dies in dist jail, The Shillong Times, 6 December 2005

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