Leaders of NGOs and the people of Mawlai, Meghalaya, on August 5 staged a surprise protest in front of the main Secretariat building to question the delay of the Meghalaya government to make public the inquiry report on the killing of insurgent leader Cherishterfield Thangkhiew.
Former HNLC (Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council) leader Cherishterfield Thangkhiew was killed in August, 2021, at his residence in Mawlai-Kynton Massar in Shillong.
Thangkhiew (56) was killed during an encounter with the police after a joint team of East Jaintia Hills police and East Khasi Hills police raided his house in connection with the recent blasts in the state.
The raid turned into an encounter when a combined team of East Jaintia Hills Police and East Khasi Hills Police raided Thangkhiew’s residence at Mawlai Kynton Massar in Shillong.
Then the Meghalaya Director General of Police (DGP), R Chandranathan said the former general secretary of the banned outfit HNLC was involved in the IED bomb blast at Laitumkhrah market in Shillong, and was also wanted in the IED blast at Khliehriat in East Jaintia Hills.
In the aftermath of the killing, Shillong witnessed massive protests in support of the dead extremist. Masked protesters were seen brandishing black flags and wielding weapons.
They attacked and vandalized a number of vehicles including those of police and tourists. They indulged in arson and stone-pelting.
Back in the 2021 celebration of Independence Day, a petrol bomb was hurled at the residence of Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.
The Meghalaya government clamped a curfew in Shillong and banned internet in at least four districts of Meghalaya to contain violence.
According to the protesters, the killing of Cherishterfield Thangkhiew was a staged encounter.
According to police as soon as the team entered the former militant’s house, Thangkhiew attacked them with a knife. In retaliation, the police opened fire which left him seriously injured. Later when he was taken to a hospital, Cherishterfield Thangkhiew was declared “brought dead.”
The family members of the extremist also claimed that the Meghalaya police just wanted to “eliminate” him.
According to National Human Rights Commission, Meghalaya ranked 7th in the country on police encounter deaths during 2014-2015 to 2018-2019. In that period a total of 1,073 persons were killed in police encounter across the country.
As per the NHRC data, the highest number of encounter deaths during this period took place in Chhattisgarh (248 death), followed by Assam (191 deaths), Uttar Pradesh (124 deaths), Jharkhand (75), Andhra Pradesh (71 deaths), Odisha (69 deaths), Meghalaya (56 deaths), Maharashtra (44 deaths), Haryana (28 deaths and Madhya Pradesh (21 deaths).
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