Accused claim to have WGH DC’s permission
TURA: Five self styled women activists including a CSWO leader based in Tura were arrested by Tura police on Friday for allegedly torturing twelve young girls including a six months pregnant woman who were forcibly kept in their custody for eight long days, but West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner, Pravin Bakshi, is in the docks after being named by the accused as the person who gave them authorization to go on with their moral policing patrols that led to the victimization of the young girls.
Though Bakshi has outrightly denied the charges, one of the victims has also come forward to state that the women who took her away had claimed to have had the permission of the Deputy Commissioner.
The activists are claiming that Bakshi had authorized them to conduct the raid and arrest. However, Bakshi has denied the charge saying, “I have only asked them to provide information to the police and accompany while the raids are being conducted.”
The activists had reportedly approached the Deputy Commissioner on Sunday.
Interestingly, district police chief Mukesh Kr Singh has denied receiving any intimation from the DC or the activists in connection with a joint raid or patrolling.
“The activists never approached us. We have no written or verbal information. We will go as per the law. They have never given us any complaint whatsoever. It is a strong case of crime against women,” said the police chief.
Earlier, CSWO leader from Tura, Jaynie Ningring N Sangma, was picked up along with four other women on charges of illegal confinement, kidnapping and torture of the young girls.
The arrested activists, besides Jaynie (37), include A’chik Mothers’ Association leader Babiana M Sangma (42), Merryln D Shira (52), Konica S Sangma (37), and Lonavi R Sangma (34).
The young girls who were kept in confinement inside Jaynie Ningring’s rented house at Danakgre locality were meted inhuman torture and severely assaulted for several days. One of the victims is six months pregnant.
They were rescued by locals on Thursday night after family members of the missing girls raised an alarm after getting word of the torture taking place.
Out of the twelve girls who were forcibly kept in the custody of the so called ‘moral’ police force, five of the victims were picked up from Chasingre, near Tura, on Sunday last while returning from a farewell party for a friend in Williamnagar. The others were allegedly taken from their respective homes by the activists who labelled them as ‘sex workers’.
“We have taken up a suo moto case based on the statement of the 12 victims. It is a serious violation of the law. We will take best legal recourse to give justice to the victims,” informed West Garo Hills Superintendent of Police Mukesh Kr Singh.
Tura police personnel from the women’s cell who took the twelve victims for medical examination recorded their statements wherein the young girls narrated the horrific torture they had to endure for days at the hands of the self-styled activists.
“The medical report has mentioned the serious nature of the injuries. The victims had bruise marks on several parts of their bodies,” said Singh.
Police have registered cases under section 365, 387, 506, 341, 342, 343, 120-B and 326 for kidnapping, abduction with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person, putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, criminal intimidation, punishment for wrongful restraint, punishment for wrongful confinement, wrongful confinement for three days, or more, punishment for criminal conspiracy and voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons.
Meanwhile, in regards to allegations of prostitution levelled against the twelve girls by the activists, the police chief said that the matter would be dealt with during the course of investigation, if there is any.
“It is not the duty of the NGO or activists to conduct raids; it is beyond their power. If somebody is creating nuisance in public place, they can be arrested by police only. The victims were not caught in the act,” he revealed.
Some of the victims were reportedly picked up from their homes in the presence of their parents and other family members. Five of the girls detained at Chasingre were initially taken to the police station.
Later the activists took custody of the girls for ‘counseling’ claiming to have obtained permission from their parents.
The activists have said that they wanted to reform the girls who were into illegal trade and provide them with rehabilitation, as per the Deputy Commissioner’s recommendation, another allegation which he has denied.
“I have never given them such order. They said that they want to take the girls for counseling under a pastor’s guidance. We will do a thorough investigation into this case. The statement of the victims will be scrutinized and the inquiry by the police is a must,” said Bakshi.
One of the victims, who is six months pregnant said, “I was picked up by the NGOs saying that the DC has authorized them to take us in their custody. They assaulted me and said that they will keep my baby with them.”
She went on to mention of the threats issued against them by the activists. “They warned that if we try to break free from their custody they will ask the GNLA militants to kill us. It seems they have sent our pictures to them,” narrated the young and frightened girl.