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Slow pace in investigation to nab absconding rape accused angers Garo Hills tribal groups

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Tura, May 9: Twenty-three days having passed and still no sign of arrest of the absconding criminals who raped two minor girls, organizations representing the hills and plain tribes of Garo Hills staged a silent procession in South West Garo Hills on Thursday demanding that authorities act fast to bring to book the guilty.

Although police did break the case and quickly arrested nine accused men, all of whom hailed from neighboring Assam, several others who were part of the group managed to escape the police dragnet and continue to remain on the loose.

The gang rape of the two minor girls happened on the night of April 16th during a tribal festival known as Chenga Benga Mela at Gandhipara village near Garobadha, in South West Garo Hills district.

Men from the bordering districts of Assam allegedly entered the festival zone and later targeted two young girls sexually assaulting them. Several of the men involved in the attack were arrested from different parts of Assam in a joint coordination by police from Garo Hills and the neighbouring state.

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But a sizable number of accused continue to be on the run and this has angered many who believe investigation is slow in bringing them to book.

In a show of solidarity and unity among the hill tribes, namely the Garos, and the plain tribes- Koch and Hajongs, all major organizations from the two sides joined hands to conduct a silent procession- marching from Ghasura community centre to Ampati deputy commissioner’s office where leaders submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner Smt. Hema Nayak.

Several hundred men and women, braving the intense heart of the day, marched in silence carrying posters, banners and placards demanding justice for the victims and enhanced security and safety for women within the state.

The procession was led by members of the Garo Students Union, Meghalaya Koch Association, Meghalaya Koch Students Union, Meghalaya Koch Women Association, Meghalaya Hajong Welfare Association, All A’chik Youth Federation, A’chik Youth Welfare Organization, A’chik Holistic and Awakening Movement and the RSS affiliated student body Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad or ABVP.

“Although police have arrested 9 men involved in the gang rape, yet the victims have told authorities that the gang comprised of more than 20 men. So our demand is for the arrest of the remaining persons who are absconding,” stated Megadeth M Marak, president of the Ampati zone of the GSU.

Journalist and president of the Meghalaya Koch Students Union Kandrapa Koch pointed out that the protest is to demand the rule of law. “We want justice for our sisters who have been victims of this inhuman act,” he said.

“There has to be appropriate punishment for such a heinous crime. It was an assault on minors and a POCSO case. Capital punishment must be given to the perpetrators of the crime,” demanded Jibananda Koch, president of the Meghalaya Koch Association.

In the meantime, the RSS’ affiliated student body ABVP has decided to take the matter up with union home minister Amit Shah and Assam chief minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma.

“Our demand is to bring to justice all those still absconding after committing the crime. During our discussion with the deputy commissioner we were told that the identity of the perpetrators has been established and they are from Assam. So we are going to move the Assam chief minister to ensure the criminals don’t get away. We are also going to petition Home Minister Amit Shah to ensure this incident is brought to light at the national level also,” announced Tengku Marak- ABVP’s Meghalaya state secretary.

Read: Tripura govt to introduce e-attendance in Govt. schools to improve quality of teaching

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