Shillong: The Autumn Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on Tuesday witnessed heated debates during the question hour with opposition MLAs cornering the government about the recent IED blast and asking pointed questions.

Congress MLA Mohendro Rapsang questioned whether the state government had any intelligence report regarding the IED blast in Shillong recently? Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui said the field units of the state police department had been alerted to take necessary preventive measures immediately.

The Congress MLA further asked why wasn’t any preemptive action taken if the government had inputs about the impending blast. The Home Minister replied that though all police stations and police outposts had been marked vulnerable, that the blast would occur at Laitumkhrah wasn’t expected by anyone.  
The MLA further grilled the minister over the nature of the lapse that the latter had admitted to while speaking to the media following the blast. Rymbui replied, “When asked if there was an intel failure, I responded in the negative. We had inputs that someone will try to trigger a blast in city. Then we took all precautionary measures. Again, like I said we didn’t expect it to happen in that area, hence the lapse.”

Questions were also raised about the involvement of Cherishterfield Thangkhiew in the blast and also about the timing of the raid carried out at his residence.
The home minister informed the House that they had a lead that Thangkhiew was involved in that blast and that’s why the police took precautionary measures. He added that they had credible inputs that the blast would occur between August 12 and August 15.

Congress MLA Rapsang asked why wasn’t the suspect picked up for interrogation instead of a raid conducted at night. Rymbui said that the time of raid, time of arrest and the urgency of matter required the police to act accordingly because they had credible inputs.
Another Congress MLA PT Sawkmie, from Mawlai constituency, joined in asking the home minister whether the police had instructions to arrest Thangkhiew or kill him? And how many policemen were involved? “The police have no right to kill any person. The job of police is to prevent crime and arrest the culprit. It is upon the court to decide,” the home minister replied.
Adding that what had happened on the morning of August 15 was “unfortunate”, Rymbui said a judicial inquiry has already been constituted and action will be taken once the report is out.

To the question raised by MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh asking about the extent of the blast and who was responsible for it, Rymbui informed that 1.524 kg of high explosives gelatin was used in the blast and that the police have arrested three people. “The matter is under investigation and the HNLC has also claimed responsibility,” the minister added.

Leader of Opposition Dr Mukul Sangma questioned whether the government was monitoring the activities of Thangkhiew after he had surrendered. Sangma said when dealing with such a situation wherein an ex-militant has surrendered, did the government counsel him? “Is there a mechanism to ensure that they don’t slip back?” asked the leader of opposition.

Another MLA, HM Shangpliang, said administrative prudence demands that officials or the police who are involved in operations that lead to causing death of a suspect, the govt should take action against them.

The home minister replied, “The intention was to prevent and take measures to avoid any more blast and also to arrest the culprit. At this juncture, it is better to wait for the judicial inquiry to be complete and wait for the report for necessary action.”

Also read: EM DOCUMENTARY: What led to the recent unrest in Shillong?

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