Shillong: On August 15 this year, Meghalaya’s capital, Shillong, looked less like a city marking India’s 75th Independence Day, and more like a city under siege. The extremely suspicious ‘encounter’ of ex-HNLC militant Cherishterfield Thangkhiew on August 13 had left the city’s residents angry, and on August 15, to mark their protests against Thangkhiew’s extrajudicial murder, men and women, clad in black shirts and jainsems (the Khasi traditional attire) took to the streets.


EastMojo documentary attempts to provide an inside account of the unrest and how the Meghalaya government tried, and failed, to tackle the crisis.
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Thousands gathered at Mawlai-Kynton Massar to pay their tributes to Thangkhiew.

From the day of the encounter, it became clear that few, if any, bought the Meghalaya police’s version of what conspired in the early hours of August 13.

The Meghalaya Director General of Police (DGP), R Chandranathan, and also the chief minister, Conrad K Sangma, clarified that Thangkhiew was involved in the recent IED blasts, but the citizens were not buying their story.

Every resident of Mawlai and the family members simply called the encounter fake. They questioned how a knife could be more dangerous than a gun. The police claimed that Thangkhiew used a knife to attack while trying to escape, leaving the police no choice but to exert the right to private defense.

The police fired a single round, which caught Thangkhiew. To make matters worse for the police, Thangkhiew’s family pointed out that he was mostly bedridden and that his kidney problems and other ailments meant he found it hard to even climb down the stairs.

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