Police dilemma in acting promptly in high profile cases is blatantly caught once again in Meghalaya. The Marvelene’s Inn at Rilbong in Shillong is not yet sealed just because it belongs to the family of home minister HDR Lyngdoh. Although it is registered in the name of his son, who is too young to own such a posh property, the person behind pulling the strings is obvious. Almost every MLA in Meghalaya is into own business, albeit in the name of wives, children, relatives and friends. The critical case of the Inn in view of its owner may also have restricted the police in going all out against other places of ‘entertainment’ that were named by a 14-year-old girl who was sexually exploited by many including militant leader turned MLA Julius Dorphang. Julius currently being lodged in jail is a saving grace for HDR as the former could spill the beans, if any, once he comes out.

Prostitution – banned or not – exists everywhere in the world. It is an urban phenomenon. For its prevalence, it does not matter if a country or city is rich or poor. There are over a thousand ‘active’ prostitutes in Shillong. Obviously, they have to get places to ‘work’. The ‘customers’ ranging from teenagers to middle-aged married men, the latter’s homes are not an ideal location while most prostitutes live in rickety houses. That leaves both the parties to hunt for hotels and guest houses, which have all the amenities and ‘ambience’. The hoteliers don’t mind as such clients hire the room only for a few hours keeping the vacancy open for the day. On most occasions, the customers book the room and the prostitutes come as ‘guest’. But when the client frequents the same hotel it becomes increasingly difficult for the management to entertain him as police might suspect seeing the name of same person in the entry register, which the hotel is bound to submit to police every day. Then comes the nexus with the hotel management, which also allegedly happened in case of Marvelene’s Inn. Such ‘special’ clients are allowed entry without having to enter their names in the register. It works both ways, for the clients as well as the hotel.

The home minister’s statement pleading innocence about anything that have gone wrong in the guest house holds little water especially when several prostitutes already divulged police about frequenting the Inn. Most suspicious is police not getting custody of the arrested manager was lying in the hospital bed for ‘illness’ before beings sent to judicial custody. It would not have happened had he been the manager of any other erring inn. It remains to be seen if more skeletons would come out of the cupboard or this case would be another victim of police reluctance in going against high profile people as it happened with the infamous white ink scam involving the then education minister Ampareen Lyngdoh.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on March 24, 2017)