Shillong, Jan 29 (IANS): The Meghalaya government on Friday ordered magisterial probe into the killing of a Garo rebel leader in an alleged staged gunfight by security forces.
"The Deputy Commissioner is issuing orders for a magisterial inquiry to ascertain the facts of the encounter and submit the report to the government in a time-bound manner for deciding further course of action on the demands of the NGOs of East Garo Hills," Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told journalists.
Sangma hurriedly convened a cabinet meeting on Friday to discuss the alleged fake gunfight.
On Thursday, thousands of angry villagers protested in front of Williamnagar police station against the killing of Washington N Marak, 50, a suspected Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebel, in an alleged fake encounter at Rongrekgre village on Wednesday.
Four suspected rebels were also arrested from Rongrekgre village. Police claimed to have recovered an AK rifle with four round of live ammunition from Washington's possession.
Claiming that Marak and the arrested people have no links with the GNLA, eight social groups termed the police claims as "absurd" and demanded the immediate termination of service of Police Inspector T.C. Chacko and other police personnel who were involved in the killing.
The NGOs also demanded a compensation of Rs.50 lakh to the next of kin of Marak, besides immediate treatment of the released persons.
"The concerns of the public on the allegations made against certain police officers in connection with the encounter have to be balanced against our efforts to fight against anti-national and social groups," Sangma said.
Sangma, however, said the government was committed to protection of human rights and life and property of the citizens. No innocent should be harassed and no let-up in the action against the extremist elements can be allowed under pressure from extraneous vested interest.
He also admitted that the GNLA is actively involved in extortions and abductions and trying to expand its base by recruiting cadres and developing nexus with other militant outfits in the region.
The GNLA, which is fighting for a 'sovereign Garoland' in the western area of Meghalaya, has links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the NDFB.