SHILLONG, Sept 14 � The sleepy hamlet of Pakregre in Garo Hills, Meghalaya was suddenly thrust into the national limelight after a video surfaced showing Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) cadres inhumanly beating some villagers in the presence of nearly the whole village.
While the villagers themselves were shy and fearful of providing details of what exactly transpired on September 4 last, a few came forward to give the real version of the events that occurred.
While the police maintained that the civilians were beaten on the allegation of being police informers, the village differed, saying that most were involved in extortion in the name of GNLA and two were alleged informers. While most of them have recovered from the severe beatings, three of them are still bedridden.
The village comprising close to 300 households and about 2,600 people is primarily agrarian and is about 7 km from Rongjeng in East Garo Hills district, connected through a PMGSY road, which itself is another story. The village itself provides the perfect place for keeping watch over a vast terrain, which explains why the militants kept coming back.
According to the villagers, 22 GNLA militants were staying in a house, 2 km from a police security camp. They were there before the police raid of August 29 and came back after the police left. A total of nine people were severely beaten by the militants with canes, some of which broke due to the severity of the thrashing.
Three of the nine are still bedridden due to the beatings. The police had launched an operation in the village on September 9 in which a GNLA cadre Bestfield Marak was killed and police got a hold of the video.
�They held a meeting in the school playground with almost the whole village present. Seven of the nine villagers had been into the extortion business and two others were suspected police informers. The militants wanted to shoot five from the group but the villagers asked them not to and they agreed�, said an elderly resident of the village.
�The fake GNLAmen had demanded money from me and we were all aware of their activities. The seven involved had asked me for Rs 2.5 lakh and had even demanded Rs 50 lakh from a wellknown contractor in Rongjeng. It was on this charge that they started beating up these people. It appears that someone set up the other two saying that they were police informers,� added another resident of the village.
A police camp is now in place to ensure security for the village besides preventing those militants who managed to escape from returning. The village still wears a coat of fear that will take time to heal after the horrific incidents that have occurred.