Apropos the news item carried by your paper on October 7, 2017,“ Engineer held in rape of minor,” wherein one Mr. Lumlang Nongbri was named as the accused,I would like to raise some disturbing concerns, for reaction from concerned citizens. Already the numerous cases of rape, assault and violence against women in Meghalaya, that have been reported in the media in 2017 and the slow pace of the judicial system, is extremely worrisome for many. In this particular case, the Police Department need to be commended in terms of the swift initial response and registering the case under the relevant sections of the stringent POCSO ( Protection of Children From Sexual Offences) Act and completing all the preliminary formalities as far as the victim is concerned.
However, it is extremely puzzling and unfathomable, that the accused was taken from the Police Station directly to the Civil Hospital, Shillong on October 5, 2017. Here, he enjoyed protection and the comfort of the hospital for a considerable amount of time. It is nearly two months since the incident and the accused is still undergoing treatment, now in a private hospital of the city, with the permission of the court. Some shockingly disturbing questions need to be asked: Did the incident lead to such a serious illness in the accused that he requires nearly two months of treatment? When was the last time the accused was in hospital for such a long time and for what illness? Has there been a Medical Board constituted to examine the seriousness of the ailment/s of the accused? Has an investigation been carried out about any earlier incident concerning the accused? Is it so easy to callously evade arrest even under a stringent POCSO Act? Isn’t this an invitation to other such persons that they have nothing to worry – “The law ( like the Shillong traffic…) will take its course?” All of us experience daily, the speed of the Shillong traffic – “dead slow and stop!” Parents and citizens need to be really, really concerned that even if the accused in such a case ( where the child is a minor ) is apprehended he can enjoy long periods of relief in hospital. The real question is : WHO IS BEING PROTECTED?
Through your esteemed daily, I would like to alert the citizens of the State regarding this matter. I would also urgently appeal to the Honorable Chief Minister and Home Minister of Meghalaya, in the interest of so many suffering victims, (particularly children),to intervene so that speedy justice is seen to be done.
LET’S “VOTE FOR CHANGE”
Election is at the threshold and we can feel the highly charged political atmosphere in the State. Politicians are busy visiting houses, meeting people, attending functions etc. Political parties vie with each other to woo the voters through their political scheming. Candidates of rural constituencies, especially those in far flung areas, are seen frequenting those places where they were seldom seen at other times. As usual they will dupe the simple people with yet another list of development projects. Once the elections are over and they are elected, you can be sure that not even their shadows would be seen in those places. All of them would have cosy homes in the city where they can live a comfortable life. Therefore they will never experience the hardships of those people who live in those villages. This is the reason why roads in rural areas remain as miserable as they were three decades ago. Just think of the roads going to Rangblang, to Rambrai, to Balat or to Mawkyrwat which are important townships (I am sure in Garo Hills the condition of rural roads would be equally bad if not worse). If roads to these towns are as bad as they are, how would the condition of roads be to the interior villages? In most of these villages, electricity is a distant dream. Besides these, health care and education are in a deplorable condition. If missionary schools and dispensaries were not there, these poor people would have been deprived of the most basic human needs. All these things prove that our veteran politicians have failed to deliver on their promises. Some of them have been in power for fifteen to twenty five years but without much impact on development.
The West Khasi Hills has typical leaders of this sort who rank very low in the scale of development. It is time now that veterans should make way for young blood. It is a fact that many young politicians in our State, are performing exceptionally well. They seem to be more development-oriented than their predecessors. Given the chance, many of the budding politicians could spring surprises. The people of Meghalaya should now “vote for a change” or “vote for development” and nothing else. Issues of religion, denomination or ethnicity, should be put behind. People should also put an end to selfish motives and think of community development. At times it is the craving for such personal benefits that facilitates political manipulation of the voters. The culture of “money for vote” should never be tolerated by any right-thinking citizen of our State.
Barnes Mawrie sdb