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Meghalaya police put up a bold face by filing charge sheet against a cabinet minister in a case that already went into obscurity. Normally, it takes huge public protest or sustained media campaign to pursue cases against powerful people in India. Many cases had to be reopened and justice delivered only after such campaigns. Deborah Marak is perhaps the first such cabinet minister against whom the state police filed a charge sheet. Her colleague Ampareen Lyngdoh, who was named by the CBI in the much-talked-about education scam, is still a free woman despite having three FIRs pending against her. This ‘discrimination’ has led to a debate whether the charges against Deborah are politically motivated. It has cast a doubt whether it was police’s boldness or helplessness behind the whole affair.

Witch hunting or not Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma has personal reasons to smile after East Garo Hills police filed the charge sheet. The charges against Deborah and activist Tennydard Marak came at a time when the chief minister was battling perennial internal rift in the Congress party. Besides, Tennydard kept Mukul worried for over a year by raking up the latter’s controversial ST status issue. The charge sheet was a blow to both his rival sides. Does it mean he was behind the “bold” act of police? Opposition parties kept in mind the “double benefit” of the chief minister as they termed the charge sheet a political conspiracy.

If Deborah, the four-time legislator, had really used militants for winning the last election, there might be others using the same method as well. This is a good time to remember the allegation by Achik National Volunteer Council – Breakaway (ANVC-B) that the outfit “helped” Mukul Sangma to become chief minister. Should there not be a wider probe rather than a specific case of Deborah Marak, dug out from the den of obscurity? Another interesting fact is that Tennydard was brought into the fold after police “found evidence of his involvement” in the case. His name was not there in the original FIR filed by independent candidate Jonathone Sangma. Jonathone had alleged that the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) launched a poster campaign in his Williamnagar constituency warning the people against voting for him. It’s a highly unhealthy trend in a democracy. Police must be lauded if they acted without any bias in filing the charge sheet. It’s high time the law became stronger to book the high and mighty, who have been taking the public for decades together.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on November 7, 2014)