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Meghalaya BJP leader accused of running brothel sent to 8-day police custody

He was brought to Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills, on Thursday afternoon and then produced before the Court Chief Judicial Magistrate of Tura, Monica K Lyngdoh. 

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Shillong: Meghalaya BJP Vice President Bernard Marak, who is accused of running prostitution racket from his farmhouse, has been sent to eight-day police custody.

On Tuesday, Uttar Pradesh police arrested Marak following a country-wide ‘look-out’ notice issued against him by the Meghalaya Police. Marak had evaded arrest after a crackdown on his farmhouse at Edenbari in West Garo Hills on July 22.

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He was brought to Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills, on Thursday afternoon and then produced before the Court Chief Judicial Magistrate of Tura, Monica K Lyngdoh. 

The Court has granted eight days to grill Marak against Meghalaya police’s request for 14 days police custody.

The former militant-turned politician has been charged under Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956 for allegedly running a brothel at his farmhouse.

The farmhouse was earlier the designated camp of the disbanded A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC-B). The militant outfit had signed a tripartite peace pact with the central government and the Meghalaya government.

The crackdown on Marak’s farmhouse followed after a minor revealed in the court that she and her friend were taken to farmhouse -Rimpu Bagan- and were sexually assaulted there.

During the raid, 73 people, including 23 women were arrested and five minors were rescued. Police also seized a large number of liquor, contraceptives, knives and other incriminating items from the farmhouse.

In another new development, police on Thursday recovered explosives from Marak’s farmhouse, where police had earlier busted a sex racket during a raid on July 22 last.

“The recovery was made when a team of District Child Protection Unit and Meghalaya Police had gone to the farmhouse to collect the clothes and books of the children who were rescued from the premises during July 22 raid,” Vivekanand Singh Rathore, the district police chief of West Garo Hills, told UNI.

“During this exercise, the police team noticed one small door-like structure. As they broke open the door they found explosives which included 35 gelatine sticks, 100 detonators apart from recovering four cross bows and 15 arrows,” Rathore said. Moreover, one of the rescued children has accused of sexual exploitation in the farmhouse.

“So we are pressing in other charges against Marak under the Explosives Substances Act, 1908 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012” Rathore added.

On charges of harassing family members and BJP workers, Rathore said as part of the police investigation houses of his mother were searched as the accused was evading arrest.

“We don’t require a search warrant during the course of an investigation. It’s within the purview of law,” the SP added.

Prior to his arrest, Marak has denied all charges against him and termed the police raid was a “political vendetta and the police are trying to gun him down in a fake encounter.”

Marak, a militant turned politician, is slated to contest from South Tura Assembly constituency segment, which is being held by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

Apart from the police investigation, the district administration of West Garo Hills on Wednesday has also instituted a magisterial inquiry to probe into several aspects of permissions relating to selling of liquor, water connection, electricity and other civil aspects in the farmhouse. 

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