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Tura: In a strange twist in the Rimpu Bagan case, statements of at least three complainants to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) were taken by Vivekananda Singh Rathore, the Superintendent of Police (SP) of West Garo Hills (WGH) who is an accused in the various complaints.

Following the now infamous Rimpu Bagan case, at least 67 persons were arrested by the WGH police in cases of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act. While all 67 persons that were arrested are currently out on bail, at least 30 cases were filed with the NHRC and the MHRC over what the arrested people alleged was arbitrary arrest.

Complaints have been filed against the SP, the Investigation Officer, Mamata Hajong as well as jail warden, Purabi Das for alleged harassment, wrongful incarceration and physical abuse.

The three NHRC complainants have written to the Commission seeking a change of investigation officer.

“We filed the case against the 3 officers as they were the ones for whom we were wrongly arrested just because we were present in Rimpu Bagan during a raid conducted by the police. We hoped that the matter would be taken up earnestly by the NHRC so that the people behind our incarceration can be acted on. Imagine our surprise when we came to know that the SP was the one we were supposed to give our statement to,” said one of the complainants.

In their complaint, at least two of the complainants alleged that the SP tried to modify their statement to take himself out of the picture while throwing others under the bus.

“I was made to sign a statement wherein the SP didn’t look down on our society as well wherein I also apparently stated that my statement (in Garo) was modified to blame the SP. This is not true. I have shared with the NHRC what is true in my complaint and that is what I will stand by. However, if the SP himself is the statement taker, there is immense scope for manipulation, as happened in my case,” she added.

The woman in question stated that she had to go through immense mental trauma and with her being a single mother, her child had to suffer as well.

Interestingly, as per sources, the NHRC had asked the SP of SWGH to take statements on the complaints on Aug 30. However, as to how the same landed in the office of the SP, WGH is a matter of concern.

As per the complainants, no official letter was handed to them that their statement would be taken by the SP of WGH. Rather a phone call was made to them and they were asked to come to the office for their statements.

“This is completely against the spirit of the law. How can we trust the officer in question, against whom we have filed a complaint to give an unbiased hearing and not modify our statement? In fact, he even stated to me that I should have taken his advice before filing a case with the NHRC. Is this how a statement needs to be taken,” asked another complainant.

While 3 complainants have given their statements to the SP of WGH, speculation is that more such complainants may have been called though till the filing of this report, none of the others gave a statement to the SP of WGH. 

As per the latest from the complainants, a letter to the minister of tribal affairs is being posted along with one to the Meghalaya Governor. Further, the complainants have also assured that they will be approaching the Meghalaya High Court to seek justice in their cases of wrongful arrest.

“As most of us are in bad financial condition, we have been working hard to ensure enough money to fight our case. We will hopefully be able to do so in the coming days,” stated another complainant.

To raise finances, the complainants had recently opened a fast food shop by the roadside to help their cause.

Also read | Meghalaya: Tura College observes World Food Day

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