Mob forces release of arrested rebels, demands compensation

Shillong, Jan 27 (PTI) A mob today gheraoed a policestation and forced the release of the four Garo ''militants''who were arrested after an encounter in Meghalaya�s East GaroHills district in which one suspected militant was alsokilled.

A mob of around 300 people, allegedly led by the localMLA, gheraoed the Williamnagar Police Station, threatening toburn it down if the militants, who they claim to be ''innocentvillagers'', are not released.

Official sources said the police were forced to releasethe captive militants on personal release (PR) bond.

A senior police official insisted that the four were infact associated with a militant group and their release wereonly to ensure that the situation did not go out of hand.

Local MLA Marcuise Marak refuted reports that he led themob and said that he in fact had gone to the police station tohelp the administration in dispersing the unruly mob which wasbeginning to gain in numbers.

"Nokmas (traditional heads), villagers and others will notopenly come out in support of rebels if they are so," Maraksaid claiming that deceased and other four are innocent dailywage earners.

The rebel killed in the encounter was engaged by thevillage head to make wooden planks, Marak claimed.

The protesters also wanted to take out a procession withthe body of the slain militant, but were not allowed by theadministration. The body was later handed over to the family.

The protesters claimed the arrested persons werevillagers and that yesterday�s encounter in which anothermilitant was killed was "stage-managed".

The Federation For Achik Freedom, an NGO, has demanded acompensation of Rs 50 lakh to the next of kin of the slainperson and removal of the circle inspector of Williamnagar whohad led yesterday�s operation.

"It is absolutely necessary to find out the facts and ifthe slain person was innocent then why such an incidentoccurred and who are the people/officers who have actedirresponsibly. Therefore an enquiry must be set up immediatelyto ensure that officers responsible should immediately bebrought to task," Opposition leader Conrad Sangma said in aletter to Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh.

A suspected militant of the Garo National Liberation Army(GNLA) was killed, four others arrested while the outfit�s''chairman narrowly escaped in an pre-dawn encounteryesterday.

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