Shillong: Meghalaya Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Tuesday informed the Assembly that former Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) militant Cherishterfield Thangkhiew was involved in the IED blast at Laitumkhrah last month.
“After the blast, the police department investigated and the lead was that Cheristherfield Thangkhiew was involved in the blast,” Rymbui told legislators during the Question Hour.
The Laitumkhrah blast occurred behind a tea stall in the busy Laitumkhrah market area and two persons escaped with minor injuries. An IED weighing 1.524 Kg made with highly explosive Neo Gel commercial gelatine sticks.
The Home Minister informed the House that three persons have been arrested in connection with the blast and and investigation is on.
Admitting that there were lapses although the police had specific intelligence inputs about potential blasts in the state capital, Rymbui said, “We already alerted all the police stations and outposts to prevent the blast. We marked all the vulnerable areas in Shillong areas. We took measures but we didn’t expect the blast in that area (Laitumkhrah market).”
On the early monring raid at Thangkhiew’s residence which led to his killing on August 13, Rymbui said, the role of the police is to prevent crime and criminals through arrest, gather evidence and present to the courts to take action.
The Home Minister said that there was credible intelligence input of more blasts in the state capital from August 12 to August 15 so the police raided Thangkhiew’s residence.
“They (police) went with the intention to prevent more IED blasts to ensure safety and security of the people,” he said, pointing out that the government has already instituted a judicial inquiry into the circumstances leading to the gunning down of former HNLC militant leader.
“Police have no right to kill any person. The police job is to prevent the crime, arrest the culprit and it is for the law to gather evidence and produce in the court and it is up to the court to do,” the Home Minister asserted.
“The government wants to come clear and we will wait for that report,” he said when asked by opposition members if the police officers responsible for the incident would be suspended.
Replying to a question raised by Opposition member Mohendro Rapsang of the Congress, the Home Minister said, “The specialized branches of the police department are also undertaking various stringent security measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future and law and order situation is being closely monitored from time to time.”
With several opposition members, including leader of opposition, Mukul Sangma raising the issue, the home minister pointed out that the HNLC had claimed responsibility for the IED blast in the Laitumkhrah market in Shillong.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma intervened to say that the due process of law needs to be followed and that the government has taken concrete steps, saying, “We want truth to come out.”