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The death of Victoria Kharkongor inside Dispur police station in Guwahati is not an open and shut case of suicide. There is a clear case of lapse on the part of police. According to police, she committed suicide by hanging with her dupatta inside the toilet of the police station. Obviously, the police cannot monitor a person, especially a woman, inside the toilet! But police should also know that every person taken to the police station is not in his or her best state of mind. There is every chance of the person acting in an unacceptable manner. The person, accused wrongly or rightly of a crime, is bound to be in a depressed state of mind, a prime reason for suicide. In that case, the toilet, supposed to be used by the accused, should be custom made and have no place to fasten a rope or dupatta. There have been cases of alleged suicide inside police lock-ups. A Meghalaya home minister attracted severe criticism for giving a statement blaming the pyjama worn by inmates to be the culprits. Meanwhile, Dispur police to clear its image will have to establish that the door was locked from inside and declare the names of cops who broke it open.

There have been conflicting reports and statements from many related to the case since the incident took place on July 5 night. Victoria (39) was first allegedly noticed in International Hospital around 8.30 pm. Finding her in a “restless” condition, the hospital authorities called the police. The hospital authorities allegedly recognised her case to be of psychological disorder. If that was the case, it is not known as to why they thought police will be the best doctor to treat her illness! The hospital authorities should have tried to understand her case with the help of police and arrive at a decision. However, it is understood that a private hospital would have no time for a “patient” without a guardian to pay the bill. The best solution is hand over the “case” to police!

There has been an increased clamour in Meghalaya for an independent probe into the incident. United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Jemino Mawthoh has already suspected foul play behind the incident. The same has been aired by Victoria’s mother, who said her daughter used to be a very happy person and that she cannot take her own life. The influential Khasi Students’ Union, who had spearheaded many an intensive agitation in the past, too demanded for a CBI inquiry. On the other hand, Dispur police maintained that it was the family who was in dark about her whereabouts. They thought she was in Arunachal Pradesh where she had been working as a teacher, but she actually came from Hyderabad. Under these circumstances, a speedy inquiry into the incident is required so that the truth comes out and the guilty, if any, be punished. Any delay might cause trouble in the relation between the two states, who are not in their best of terms due to a long-pending boundary dispute and influx of Bangladeshi migrants from Assam into Meghalaya.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on July 10, 2015)