SHILLONG, Aug 5: The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government on Friday assured to table the report of the One Man Commission of Inquiry into the alleged killing of former HNLC leader (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew in the upcoming Assembly’s autumn session, which will commence from September 9.
The assurance was given by the Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong to a delegation of the Sur Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep or the Voice of the People of Hynniewtrep after they staged a surprise protest in front of the secretariat against the delay to make public the inquiry report.
Armed with placards, leaders of the group earlier sat in the middle of the road when their request to allow at least 10 member-delegations to meet the government was not granted. This affected the traffic in the area.
However, the protesters later agreed not to disrupt the traffic when their request was granted.
Some of the placards read: “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied, Justice for (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew”, “Hands up, don’t shoot”, “If Inquiry Report Is Not Made Public Then MHRC Is A Joke”.
After the meeting, Tynsong told reporters that he has assured the delegation that the report of the inquiry commission will be placed on the table of the House during the upcoming autumn session of the state Assembly which will start from September 9.
He said the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) will be sitting next week to decide on the calendar for the autumn session.
“It is confirmed that the autumn session will start from September 9 and on that same day itself the inquiry report will be placed on the table of the House. I have requested all of them to have patience and till such time is reached you will know all the details of the report,” Tynsong said.
Urging the people not to get confused between a judicial inquiry commission and an inquiry committee, he said while the commission is being guided by an Act, the committee is something which is upto the government.
He further informed that the report of the One Man Commission of Inquiry is one of the fastest to be laid on the table of the House and to be made public, adding it is similar to CAG report where it cannot be made public till it is laid on the table of the House.
On the alleged lack of transparency due to the government’s failure to suspend the police officials involved in the August 13, 2021, incident, Tynsong said that earlier the government had also assured all stakeholders including traditional heads of Mawlai Town Dorbar that action will be taken by the state government as per the recommendations of the commission of inquiry.
Stating that there is no question of delay, the deputy chief minister said the term of the commission had to be extended for more than two or three times based on the request of its chairman and that it is not a government tactic to delay.
“Hearings of this type of cases take a lot of time. Sometimes the witnesses are not free and when they are not free the chairman has to extend the date. So these are the procedures where practically we need to understand and practically need to accept it,” he stated.
Later, organizing secretary of the group, Thomas Passah said the government has given a clear assurance that on September 9, the report will be placed on the table of the House and that this was as per provisions of the Inquiry Commission Act, 1952.
“However, we will verify this by studying in detail to see whether there are any clauses in the Act which stipulate that the inquiry commission report cannot be made public and can only be placed in the table of the House,” he said.
Stating that all they wanted is for justice to prevail, Passah said, “We have always been taught that law is equal for everybody – for somebody who steals in the market or for somebody who steals from the government or for somebody who kills in the market or for somebody who got killed by the government, law is equal and we expect that law should prevail and justice should be given to the house of late Cheristerfield Thangkhiew.”
He said that they were forced to come out to the streets after the government failed to give them appointments for the past one month.
Passah further stated that if the government thinks that the act says it has to be tabled in the floor of the House they could have easily called for a special session this month itself.
“This delay makes us doubt the transparency on behalf of the government and we will be looking into details. It is not that we will be agreeing to whatever the government says. We will go into the details and we will wait for the outcome,” he added.
The leader of the group also informed that the delegation had also expressed the reason for them to be anxious over the report was due to the fact that the government has failed to fulfill the demand to suspend the police officials who were involved in the act.
“This is one of the sad stories that in order for transparency to be there we believe that the police officials involved should have been suspended so that the report is transparent and is given in the right way to deliver justice,” he said.
On May 20, the One Man Commission of Inquiry had submitted its report into the August 13, 2021 incident.
Chairperson of the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission (MHRC) Justice T Vaiphei, who headed the Commission, had then informed that it took six months’ time to complete the report after conducting 20 hearings.
A three months extension was also given after the deadline to submit the report expired. At least 12 witnesses were examined by the Commission.