The Meghalaya government on Monday ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of Cheristerfield Thangkhiew, a surrendered militant from a banned insurgent group, reported ANI.
Thangkhiew was killed during a police raid at his home in Shillong on August 14. His family members and supporters have accused the police of extra-judicial killing. However, the police claimed that Thangkhiew was shot at during a scuffle with members of security forces during the raid and died later at a hospital.
Following his death, tensions escalated in Shillong and nearby areas with mobs engaging in violence and arson on Independence Day, prompting authorities in East Khasi Hills district to impose a curfew in the Shillong Agglomeration area, which includes the state capital and adjoining regions.
On Sunday, Meghalaya Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui also resigned from his post and urged Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to order an inquiry into Thangkhiew’s death. Sangma had not taken a call on Rymbui’s resignation till Monday evening, according to India Today.
Addressing reporters after a Cabinet meeting, the chief minister said his government has decided to set up a peace committee led by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong and ministers Hamlet Dohling and Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar.
The government has also decided to extend the curfew till 5 pm on Wednesday and the internet ban by another 24 hours, the chief minister said. The curfew came into effect from 8 pm on August 14, according to an order issued by the state government on Sunday. The Meghalaya home ministry had also imposed a 48-hour ban on internet services in the four districts of East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi.
On Monday, Sarma also said that five companies of the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force is being deployed in Shillong.
Thangkhiew was one of the most prominent leaders of the banned group, the Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council, which claims to fight for the Khasi-Jaintia tribal community. He had surrendered before Tynsong on October 18, 2018.
Meanwhile, Assam Special Director General of Police GP Singh has advised the state’s citizens to not travel to Shillong till the curfew is lifted.
The family of Thangkhiew has described his death as a “cold-blooded murder”. On August 15, Granary Starfield Thangkhiew said that police had come with an intention to kill his brother.
“They could have come in the daytime like any other normal person or even summoned him to the police station,” he said. “Why early at 3 am when the whole world is fast asleep? It is clear by this action they came with one and only one mission, to kill my dear brother.”
Meghalaya Director General of Police R Chandranathan said that there was evidence to link Cheristerfield Thangkhiew to two recent IED blasts claimed by the Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council.
He said that Thangkhiew was shot in his abdomen after he tried to stab one of the constables during the raid. The police also claimed to have seized a 9 mm pistol, one knife, a laptop and a number of mobile phones and incriminating documents from his home.
The Meghalaya Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of the incident. “The instant case appears to have resulted in gross human rights violation which according to Article 21 of the Constitution mandates for protection of life and personal liberty for every person within the territory of India,” it said.