The ‘rescue’ of a bank official a day after his kidnap is a much-needed breather for Meghalaya police which is facing the blues of
two back-to-back custodial deaths in Garo Hills. The fact that the young official returned home safe from the clutch of kidnappers is
welcomed by one and all. His release has brought succour to his family, friends, colleagues and all peace-loving people. The police
might be a relieved lot too. But should we believe all that police told us about the rescue operation? For many, it may not matter now
since the man in question has returned home hale and hearty. There should not be any ‘gossip’ about whether any ransom was paid to secure his release. It also does not matter if police just found him at the designated location left alone by the militants, after the ‘deal’.
It’s quite easy for police to fire some blank shots in the air and the jungle to paint the story of ‘heavy exchange of fire’. All these may
be skeptics’ versions and the police story of rescuing the official after a ‘sustained operation’ might be the ultimate truth. But are the
words coming from the men in uniform the gospel truth always? Is it not time to put under scanner their ‘success stories’ besides those
cases of violation of human rights like custodial deaths?

Before analysing the police ‘achievement’ bringing the SBI’s Ampati branch manager Arvind Kumar home safe, there are a few incidents that made headlines in Garo Hills recently. The police in West Garo Hills district have been under fire from many quarters since the brutal assault on 12 girls allegedly involved in flesh trade last month. The authorities were accused of letting the girls to be in the custody of some women activists, who ultimately landed up in the jail for allegedly assaulting and confining the girls for over a week. The details of the incident are sketchy which led to institution of three probes by separate government agencies into the incident. Just a few days later, another controversy hit the police as Balsan Marak, a 20-year old arrested in connection with the girls’ assault case, died in judicial custody. As if this was not enough for police, another person, brother of a policeman accused of beating up Balsan in the police station, was killed by suspected militants a few days later.
Then an alleged GNLA over ground worker Wiston Sangma died in police lock-up at Chokpot in South Garo Hills district. Finally, the brutal murder of a woman, Josbina Sangma, by the GNLA accusing her of being a police informer, drew national headlines. All these happened in a month, in Garo Hills.
The rescue of the bank official is definitely a ‘success story’ for the police to hide their face. Chief minister Mukul Sangma went on to
promise the ‘deserving’ cops medals and promotions. Has he considered punishing some for their failure in providing security to civilians? For that he would need inquiries that would linger for years. Let there be an inquiry into this ‘success story’ too, before coming to the conclusion that it was not a drama.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on June 20, 2014)

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