FIR against police in Meghalaya

Shillong, June 23 : A group of NGOs today filed a complaint of murder at Jowai police station against the police for allegedly killing Shillong jailbreak leader Full Moon Dhar in a “fake encounter”.
The Steering Committee Against Murder of Democracy, a conglomeration of about 20 NGOs, also appealed to the National Human Rights Commission to inquire into the alleged fake encounter.
It sent a letter to the special representative of the NHRC in Shillong, S.K. Tewari, to investigate the matter.
Committee chairperson Agnes Kharshiing said the move was aimed at looking into the excesses committed by the police while re-capturing the undertrial prisoners who escaped from Shillong jail. The police had claimed that Full Moon was killed in an encounter, but two escapees who were captured with him alleged he was murdered.
“We want the police to investigate the issue of the cold-blooded murder and the human rights violation,” she said.
The NGOs met director-general of police Anil Pradhan and urged him to speed up the inquiry after examining their FIR.
The NGOs will also seek the report of the post-mortem conducted on Full Moon to establish the facts related to the alleged fake encounter. “If needed, we will seek the district magistrate’s permission to exhume Full Moon’s body to examine how he was killed,” Kharshiing said.
She said the villagers at the encounter site had also said that Full Moon was killed in a fake encounter, strengthening the doubt that he may have been eliminated to protect some politicians, businessmen and police officials.
READ MORE - FIR against police in Meghalaya

Lapang govt hesitant on CBI probe

Protests over jailbreak gather steam
Shillong, June 23 : The Meghalaya government, nettled by the Opposition’s continuous prodding over the Shillong jailbreak, will go slow on the demand for a CBI inquiry and instead wait for the report of a fresh police probe it had ordered into the incident, chief minister D.D. Lapang told the Assembly today.
In reply to a motion moved by NCP legislator James Sangma on a politician-businessman-criminal nexus behind the jailbreak, Lapang today said that the government would weigh various options before conducting a judicial probe into the case or entrusting it either with the CBI or the CID.
Lapang said he would wait for the outcome of the fresh police investigation as the case had already been opened by the government and a new investigating officer, K. Prasad, appointed to investigate the involvement of Thomas Nongtdu who was released within 48 hours of his arrest.
Under pressure from the NGOs, the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government has reopened the case in which Nongtdu, the Congress’s nominated member to Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council, funded the jailbreak.
Lapang said his government had nothing to hide and had not remained a mere spectator. He claimed it had acted swiftly and that this was evident from the suspension and arrest of many employees of Shillong jail.
Moving the motion, James quoted the magisterial and judicial inquiry reports and said that the director-general of police, Anil Pradhan, who was then additional DGP (prisons) should own moral responsibility for the loopholes in jail administration that resulted in the escape of seven undertrials.
Referring to the revelations of re-captured undertrial prisoners and the villagers who were witness to the police encounter with the escapees, James said it appeared that the encounter was a faked and needed to be probed.
Supporting the motion, NCP leader P.A. Sangma said: “This cannot be termed a jailbreak; it is walking free from jail.”
Opposition leader Conrad Sangma said Lapang should relinquish the home portfolio. Had Full Moon been captured alive, more information about the jailbreak would have been unearthed, he said.
READ MORE - Lapang govt hesitant on CBI probe

Shillong jail-break: CBI to take over if state police fails

Shillong, June 23 : Buckling under pressure from within and outside the government, Meghalaya Chief Minister D D Lapang on Monday said he might hand over the Shillong jailbreak case to the CBI if the state police fails to solve it.

"We will see what is best to do. We have to find out ways to clear all doubts surrounding the matter. If the state police fails to give an acceptable report, we may hand over the case to CBI," Lapang told the Assembly in reply to a private member's motion.

Seven dreaded criminals escaped from the Shillong district jail on May 31 and later on, one of them was killed in an encounter and the remaining six were caught by police.

Congress leader Thomas Nongtdu was arrested for allegedly sponsoring the jail-break, but was unconditionally released a day later and the case closed down.

However, protests from organisations forced the government to re-open the case.

The government is examining the involvement of Nongtdu, the chief minister said adding that, the government has nothing to hide.

"Whether he is a Congress leader or from a non-Congress party, the law is same for all," he said, adding that the government has taken steps towards jail reforms.

Earlier, Opposition MLA James Sangma, initiating a motion on the alleged politician-criminal-businessmen nexus in the state, demanded removal of the DGP and sought a CBI probe into the case.

Other members of the Opposition as well as some from the ruling like Congress MLA Rowell Lyngdoh and UDP MLA Ardent Basaiawmoit also demanded independent inquiry to unearth the hidden facts.

So far, eight jail staff have been arrested while the jailor and jail superintendent have been placed under suspension in the case.

Bureau Report
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Meghalaya losing crores due to power theft

Shillong , June 22 Meghalaya, already in the grip of a severe power crisis, is losing Rs 1.2 crore every month due to power theft, officials said here today.
To nab illegal power consumers, the Meghalaya State Electricity Board (MeSEB) has started raiding areas where power thefts have been reported, an official of the vigilance wing of the board said.

"So far we have registered 40 cases of such thefts. They have been fined Rs 10,000 each for the violation,"he said.

Today, vigilance officials conducted raids in the Greater Shillong area, dismantling all illegal connections and seizing meter boxes.

A fine of Rs 35 lakh were imposed on commercial consumers who have not declared their actual power loads, officials said.

"We have been assessing the load required by the consumers. Some consumers, mostly in commercial places, were found to have not declared their actual load. This has put an extra burden on the genuine consumers,"the official pointed out.

Power demand in the state is 600 MW, while it produces 185.2 MW of hydel power, which is now hit by deficit rainfall.
READ MORE - Meghalaya losing crores due to power theft

Meghalaya MLAs slam appointment

Shillong, June 22 : Legislators supporting the Meghalaya United Alliance and the NGOs in the state have criticised the appointment of R. Kothandaraman as principal secretary of the Assembly Secretariat, with a salary of Rs 75,000 per month, at a time when the state cabinet has advocated austerity measures.
The cabinet last week issued circulars to all the departments to adhere strictly to the austerity measures.
“We are surprised over the appointment of Kothandaraman as the principal secretary in the Assembly Secretariat, soon after Charles Pyngrope from the Congress was made Speaker,” said a legislator supporting the MPA.
They said the appointment was neither discussed in the cabinet nor followed the norms and rules of the Meghalaya Assembly.
The appointment appeared to be political, as Kothandaraman was closely associated with the Congress party, a UDP legislator said.
Kothandaraman is allegedly facing an inquiry for anti-government activities on a complaint filed by the governor of Nagaland.
where he was posted earlier. He was also chargesheeted for threatening the secretary general of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, P.D.T. Achary.
Pyngrope said though he was not aware of the cases, unless a person is convicted, he cannot be termed as a criminal.
Pyngrope also defended the appointment of Kothandaraman, saying that it was for efficient administration of the Assembly Secretariat.
However, the appointment of a person from outside the state has sparked resentment among the employees of the state Assembly Secretariat.
An official said while the previous Speaker Bindo Lanong could take on the administration of state Assembly Secretariat single-handedly with the active co-operation of the staff, “we do not understand the logic behind the appointment of Kothandaraman.”
Meanwhile, the Khasi Students’ Union and Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Peoples have decided to meet the Speaker on Monday to take up the matter.
READ MORE - Meghalaya MLAs slam appointment

Unitarian in the Khasi Jaintia Hills

Where on Earth is the Khasi Jaintia Hills?

I came from the North East part of India and the state of Meghalaya where the Khasi lives is one of the 7 states in the region. To the south of Meghalaya is share its border with Bangladesh, so to locate Meghalaya it is kind of easy to locate Bangladesh first and then move northward.

Unitarianism in the Khasi hills an indigenous religion

Unlike other Christian denomination, Unitarianism in Khasi Jaintia hills and Karbi Anglong district of Assam was not started by the missionaries. It was started by our own son of the soil HKS along with three of his followers. Like in any other place HKS too was a disenchanted Christian looking for an alternative religion. He realized that the holy trinity was unscriptural and looks for a church which worships one God similar to what the ancestors had taught and practiced. He was introduced to an American Unitarian in Calcutta and through him managed to get the famous William Ellery Channing sermon Unitarian Christianity. After reading the tracks and scripture HKS found his spiritual home and held a first Unitarian worship on the 18 of September 1887 in Jowai.

Unitarianism in the Khasi Jaintia and Karbi Anglong claimed to be an indigenous religion is not based merely on the fact that it was started by a native person, but Unitarian church is an indigenous religion because the faith draws immense inspiration from the basic thoughts and philosophy of the tribal people.

Could you tell us a little about what it is like to be a Unitarian in Northeast India?

To understand the Khasi hills where the Unitarian lives, one must understand that from a religious point of view, there are two main divisions in the area, the Christians block and the non Christian block which comprises of the Khasi who still uphold the Khasi traditional animist religion. I use to say the Unitarian is a middle path of the two traditions. It it’s a liberal religion based on the liberal Christian tradition but with strong roots on the basic Khasi values, philosophy, belief and understanding.

After reading Channing and many other Unitarian scripture that CHA Dahl sends to HKS, he was convinced that Unitarianism is what he was looking for. So, on September 18, 1887, Singh held the first service for Unitarians in Northeast India in the town of Jowai. His genius in incorporating the best of the teachings of the missionaries with the indigenous faith of his people, including a belief in One Creative Power that is formless and manifest in nature and everywhere, continues to be the unique character Unitarianism in North East India.

In 1888 the Unitarians adopted a statement of faith. It read: We believe in the unity of God; the fatherhood and motherhood of God; in the brotherhood of Man; in love, union, worship, and faith; and in Immortality.

One may ask does this statement of faith still reflect Unitarianism as practiced in NE India. Could you tell us a little more about this faith?

This in fact it sums up the basic belief of the Unitarians in the North East India. The first hyms in the Khasi hymn book composed by Hajom Kissor Singh himslef is on this basic principle and we call it “Ki jor tynrai ka niam U Blei” The essence of the church of God. In the four stanza hymn, in the second stanza HKS described God as the Father and mother by which he mean as I was given to understand it, God in spirit or God beyond gender. God the creator and the lord of all things whom the Khasi has known from time immemorial. Though the Khasi has been using the word Lord, it does not necessarily connote the western concept of the meaning as in the Second person of God. For the Khasi since time immemorial whenever they invoke the name of God they tend to use the two names God and Lord simultaneously. The Unitarian does the same till these days.

In the third stanza he was talking about the brotherhood and sisterhood of human in spirit. Or in other words; in spirit, the entire human race is one big family.

The fourth stanza is interesting because here he was talking about the life of the spirit, that the spirit never dies, the spirit lives on. To understand this concept, one must also understand the Khasi tribe’s own understanding of life after dead and to understand that one must also know the genesis of the Khasi people. The Khasi Mythologies have it that originally there were a 16 huts in heaven, 7 came down to the earth to farm by day and return to heaven by night through a tree on hill called the navel of heaven. The devil was able to convice the 7 huts to cut the tree and cut their connection with God and the 9 huts above. To cut the long story short the 7 became the first settlers on earth and the 9 remain with God in heaven. When some one dies; the Khasi says that he will go eat bettlenut in the corridor of God’s house along with the 9 huts. To understand the important of bettlenut in the Khasi tradition one need to know another story, but I leave that to my friends who has been to the Khasi hills to do the needful. But from the many hymns that he had composed HKS define the place where the spirit will go after it parted ways with the body as the Kingdom of the spirit “Ka ri ki mynsiem.”

Though HKS statement of faith still hold good to this day in the Unitarian Union, the church also teaches me to be open and respect other belief. The Khasi traditional wisdom is a very rich, hence as a Unitarian I draw immense inspiration from our ancestral wisdom and it indeed enriches me spiritually.

The Khasi’s traditional wisdom and understanding of the nature is not only unique but it is also proves that the Khasi’s understanding of the nature is both profound and relevant. Before the world has even start talking about the equality of human being not to mention the interdependent web of existence, the Khasi’s already has it in their myths and legends that all creations are equal. The Khasi traditionally believed that in the day of the yore, the golden era of the Khasi or the virgin age, human and animals were not only talking to each other, but they even lived as one equal creation of God.

The Khasi belief that during the golden era the whole creation live as one big family, they talk to each other as they understand each other, they shop from a same market. One day in the market of chaos (Iew Lurilura), a Dog brought fermented beans to sell in the market. It has a foul smell and fellow animals condemned Dog of selling its excretion, they teased the Dog and kicked and trampled on the Dog’s fermented beans. Since then out of anger the Dog decide to stay with human and become human’s companion. But the market episode has given the dog a special ability. Because the whole animals has kick and tramapled on the dog’s fermented beans, the smells remain in their feet, so till now Dogs can smell animal scent where ever they are.

Most of our stories are woven around the mystery of life as encountered by our ancestors, so we have stories like the one I told earlier, which answer to our ancestor understanding, the question where does human come from? And where do they go after they die? And we a story provide an answer to a question why did the rooster crow in the morning? What are the marks on the moon?
The Mythology of the moon, the sun and the rooster is one example. The story have it that long long time ago; it came to pass one day, that the moon who is the younger brother of the sun, fell in love with his own beautiful sister, this is not only an incest but by Khasi culture and tradition; it is a taboo. The angered sun shower ashes on the moon and then out of embarrassment went to hid herself in the pitch dark cave known as ‘krem lamet, krem latang.’ The world was in complete darkness because the sun rises no more and there was complete chaos everywhere because the whole creation was literarily left in the dark. A grand council of the whole creation was summoned to find out ways and means to request the sun to comeback again. The council send the ryngkoh-kit-knor; the hornbill to woo the sun back, instead the sun hit him on his beak because he too was trying to seduce this beautiful damsel. Finally the grand council of all creation agreed to send the rooster a humble animal who humbly agreed to the proposal of the council. The rooster was able to convince the sun to come shine again on the earth but with one condition, that the rooster will have to crow three times every day for the sun to come back again. Since then the rooster has earned itself the right to be the mediator, the interlocutor for the people not only with the sun but even with the creator.
The inter-dependent web of existence in the Khasi context is not only among earthly creation namely animals; but it is even inter-planetary. The other folk story of the Khasi with a similar inter-planetary connection is the tragic love story of the sun and the peacock and how the tear drops of the sun crying for her loved one became the beautiful mark and patterns in the peacock’s feather. The story of how the thunder was attracted by the glittering sword of one animal a Lynx (Kui) in the warrior dance organized by both human and animals that he came down and asked kui to let him hold and sword and dance with it for few moment, but the Thunder while dancing and holding the dazzling sword upright like any warrior dancer, he flew to the sky and took along the Kui sword with him to the sky. So the lightning and the thunder that follows is the Thunder performing his warrior dance in the sky.
The two major Khasi Pnar Royal families also has a divine origin, the story of the Jaintia monarch begin with Lo Ryndi caught a fish from the river Waikhyrwi, by divine intervention he forgot to cook the fish and left it on the tier over his hearth where people traditionally dried their food so that it won’t get spoiled. As time goes the fish became a beautiful woman to whom he married and the children of the fish-turned-human became the first royal family of Jaintia Kingdom. The royal family of the Khyriem and Mylliem state of the Khasi hills is also believed to have a divine origin, the legends have it that u Lei Shillong or Shillong god has three children, ka Ngot, ka Iew and ka Pahsyntiew, the two elder sister become river and are known as Umngot and Umiew, while the youngest sister became a beautiful girl and lived all by herself in the Marai cave and she is known as ka Pahsyntiew. Pahsyntiew or court by using flowers became the great grand mother of the Royal family of Shillong. The Khasi believed that the rivers are not mere rivers but they too have a persona, the story of the Lukha river, the Lunar and the Lynju river that they were sisters like any human being is one example of this fundamental believe. The Passah of Jaintia hills till now would not cross the Kupli without giving the river some offering because the Kupli is the great great grandmother of the Passah clan and Yale Kupli’s husband who was represented by a beautiful waterfall that was lost forever in the Kupli hydro project is their great great grand father. In the Jaintia hills, the Myntdu and Myntang river not only have personality but in the case of Myntdu which flow around Jowai, the river was worship as the guardian angel and sacrifice was offered to the goddess every now and then and it is a taboo for anybody to defecate or pass urine in the river. The Khasi also believe that water is divine (umksiar um rupa) which is God’s gift and all the rivers are sacred.
Sacred groves, is another illustration of the Khasi Pnar’s respect and reverence for the nature, sacred forest as the name implies are considered sacred in the sense that the entire area is protected and the forest is kept untouched by any human hands. The sacred groves in many cases are believed to be the places where the god u Ryngkew u Basa dwells. Traditionally the Khasi Pnar would not cut any tree at random or at one’s own whims and fancy, before cutting a tree Khasi Pnar use to pray paying obeisance to God and asking forgiveness for cutting the tree for his own needs.
I’m proud of my roots and like I say Unitarianism in the Khasi hills is the middle path of the two traditions, hence it is like taking the good things from both the tradition to grow spiritually as an individual and as a denomination. There is another story from Khasi Folklore which is related to the situation that we are; it is the story of the Bat. Once a battle erupted between the winged creatures and the wingless or land creature and the battle went on for a long time without any clear winner. But the one creature that does not seems to belong to either side of the divide was the Bat. As time battle went on, the Bat think that the winged creature are going to win; so it went to the winged creature and said, ‘look I’m one of you, I have wings.’ And when it looks like land animals are going to win, it went to them and said ‘though I have wings I am not a bird you know.’ I think anywhere we are in the World, we are in what I call a bat situation.

What is your hope for Unitarianism in NE India in the next ten years?

As a Minister my observation is that, the old lay leadership system that the Unitarian Union follows since its inception is not going to help the church to grow. We need to professionalize our minister. Some of us has some training but still many are leading the church without any training whatsoever on church leadership. Therefore the need of the hour for the church is to professionalized ministry and we are moving on that direction. Few of us registered on a distance course called MA in Christian studies offer by the Madras University. For the leaders in the village who cannot read English, we have started conducting our own weekly leadership class every Saturday. We are building our own resources for that and we welcome any contribution in the form of books on Unitarian Universalist and other related subject. We hope to have atleast a center if not a seminary of our own.
I personally don’t see any problem on this. Our Seminaries in the US like the Starr King is already offering online theological course and even CLF have some. We only need to get access to these courses to equip ourselves.

I strongly believe that this the way forward for Unitarian Union as a religious organization.

Before I conclude please allow me to say that I am extremely gratefull to you all for supporting my trip to the US and I enjoy every bit of it. Thank you so much. May I also on behalf of the Unitarian Union, invite you all to visit your partner church in the Unitarian Union.
READ MORE - Unitarian in the Khasi Jaintia Hills

'Mama's Place' - Visiting Matriarchal Societies - Meghalaya State

I noticed something was up as I was in the jeep being driven through the Khasi Hills district. Nay, I tell a lie, it was a week earlier as I was traveling down to Tripura. The coach had stopped off for dinner at about 10pm. I was not hungry, but I decided to stock up. We were in the Janita Hills and I went to the local shop, nothing more than a small hut by the restaurant. It was a husband and wife team. But it was the husband scurrying around in the back, getting the goods, while the wife was dealing with the cash. At the time I did not register anything unusual, but it was the first time in India that a woman had handled my cash.


So yes, I was in a jeep being driven through the Khasi Hills district, when suddenly I noticed women, everywhere. Yes, women do come out in India, this is not a repressed society. But in the Khasi Hills, women were really everywhere, working, on their own, in groups. There were mothers everywhere, working, not going out with pushchairs taking up a whole pavement, but with their babies on their backs. This was not a coffee morning, but they were doing everything that made society move.

Still, it did not click in my mind that I was traveling through a solidly matriarchal society, I just thought it was a more 'westernised' part of India. Ha! I could not be more wrong...before I had hit India, I was not planning to see Meghalaya. Maybe an overnight jobbie, that was about it. However, the heat of Tripura, plus a realisation that Shillong was on a plateau meant that I decided to spend a few days up in the cooling hills. Unfortunately, I did not do any research on Meghalaya, so I walked into the state completely ignorant of the surroundings.

After finding a hotel I went down the hill and found a place by the river selling fish and rice. Yeah baby...anyhoo, I sat down and nibbled away, watching the women do their thing. Running a restaurant. Again, it did not register with me that I was watching a matriarchy at work, I was far more enthused by plain tea - yes! Tea, without milk or sugar - the way I actually like my tea!

You really can see, that despite the high fluted subject matter of this blog, when it comes to basics all I think of when traveling is good food and great tea.

So when did I realise I was in the middle of a matriarchal society. Nope, I did not read up about it until later on, I did not get told by anyone until later on. I realised when I was wandering round the market place. Just a stroll mind you, minding my own business, taking pictures, when I heard a wolf whistle. I stopped, and looked round. There she was, in her sixties, winking at me. A bit taken aback, she gave another wolf whistle and a wink. I winked back and called out 'all right babes'.
READ MORE - 'Mama's Place' - Visiting Matriarchal Societies - Meghalaya State

NCP lawmakers stage walkout in Meghalaya Assembly

Shillong, The Opposition NCP today staged a walkout from the Meghalaya Assembly protesting against Speaker Charles Pyngrope’s decision not to allow them to move an adjournment motion to discuss a recent jailbreak allegedly involving a Congress leader.

As soon as the House resumed business, NCP legislator James K Sangma raised a point of order and asked the Speaker to allow him to move the adjournment motion “since it is an important issue”.

Mr Pyngrope, however, refused stating that the matter was scheduled to come up in another motion.

Leader of Opposition Conrad K Sangma (NCP) said as the matter was of utmost importance it should be discussed today.

Echoing his plea, party colleagues Adolf Lu Hitler, R Marak, E C Bamon and Purno A Sangma insisted on the Speaker allowing the adjournment motion to be discussed.

”The adjournment motion concerns the whole House and it is different from a private member’s motion. The adjournment motion is the second most important one in the House which should not be delayed,” Mr Purno Sangma maintained.

Refusing to comply to the Opposition’s plea, Mr Pyngrope insisted that the matter would be clubbed together in a private member’s motion.

Deputy Chief Minister Mukul M Sangma said since the private member’s motion had been listed during the current session it could not be taken now.

As the Speaker refused to admit the adjournment motion all the 14 NCP legislators staged a walkout.

”It is better to walkout of the House after the Speaker rejected the adjournment motion,” Mr Conrad Sangma said, alleging that the government was hiding the truth relating to the jail break.

”We want the government to hand over the case to the CBI and at the same time Chief Minister DD La[angshould relinquish the Home department, while incumbent DGP Anil Pradhan should also be removed to facilitate an impartial probe,” he told reporters.

Mr Purno Sangma said there should be a thorough discussion on the matter ”and we will raise several points regarding the jailbreak issue in the coming days in the Assembly”.
READ MORE - NCP lawmakers stage walkout in Meghalaya Assembly

Native orgs irked by outsiders' acquisition of land in Meghalaya

Shillong, June 20 : Frontline Meghalaya youth organizations led by the Khasi Students Union (KSU), Garo Students Union (GSU), Federation of Khasi Garo Jaintia People (FKJGP) and others under the aegis of Committee Against Land Alienation (CALA) have taken strong exception to certain groups and organizations acquisition of land that defeats the provisions of the Meghalaya Land Transfer Act. The Meghalaya Land Transfer Act prohibits non-indigenous people from buying or selling of land but the recent trend where people buy land in the name of religion, trust and educational institution prompted CALA to have a review meeting at the KSU office in Shillong today..

Taking cognizance of the developments that has gone against the provisions of the Meghalaya Land Transfer Act, CALA member and Khasi Students Union (KSU) general secretary Hamlet Dohling said, “In the name of religion, educational institutions and NGOs, acres and acres of land have been acquired by people from outside the state and thus defeated the very legislation that aims at safeguarding the interest of the indigenous people”.
“They used section 41 (e) and (f) of the act for their back door entry and it is on this ground that we will demand from the government to delete these clause from the Act”, further said Dohling.
“We wanted this clause to be deleted and any acquisition of land should be with the proper knowledge of the traditional institutions and other bodies concern”, stated Dohling. CALA also wanted that the section 2 (m) of the Meghalaya Transfer Act be amended in order to exempt certain tribes from the purview of the provisions. The obvious target is on four communities that have a good presence in pockets of the seven districts of the state. CALA's intention is clear that only the three indigenous tribes of Meghalaya –Khasi, Jaintia and Garo should enjoy the rights to buy and sell land in the state in order to check further alienation of land. According to Dohling, CALA will meet on the June 22 to formalize their proposal to be submitted to the State Government.
READ MORE - Native orgs irked by outsiders' acquisition of land in Meghalaya

TNEB entering tie ups for captive coal mines

BL reported that the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board is getting into JV for captive coal mining to enable assured supply of coal for power generation.

The policy note of the energy department for 2009-10 tabled in the Assembly states that the electricity board faces a shortfall of about 2 million tonne of coal on an annual requirement of 15 million tonne to fuel 4 thermal plants that generate 2,970 MW. The TNEB manages to bridge the shortfall through imports.

But as a permanent measure, the TNEB has decided to go in for captive coal mines. It has been allotted 2 coal blocks Gare Pelma Sector II coal block in Chhattisgarh along with Maharashtra State Mining Corporation and the Mandakini B coal block in Orissa along with the State mining corporations of Orissa, Assam and Meghalaya. The board’s share would be 8.5 million tonne of coal a year with 5 million tonne from the Chhattisgarh mines and the balance from Orissa.

The JV Maha Tamil Collieries Limited with Maharashtra State Mining Corporation is in the pipeline. The other JV with the mining corporations of Orissa, Assam and Meghalaya has been formed and further developments are being followed up.

According to the policy note, the 17th electrical power survey by the Central Electricity Authority projects a shortfall of 1,801 MW in 2009-10 which is expected to increase to 2,800 MW by 2013-14. The State Government hopes to manage the shortfall through renewable energy and other sources.

Moving the demand for grants to the Energy Department, Mr Arcot N Veeraswami minister of electricity said that the total installed generation capacity in the State is 15,100 MW including 4,886 MW from renewable sources.

However, wind mills constitute the major portion of power from renewable sources with an established capacity of 4,310 MW, cogeneration plants 466 MW and biomass plants 109 MW. The maximum peak demand during 2008-09 was 9,576 MW and maximum daily consumption 214 million units in May 2009. During the current year the demand is estimated at about 11,675 MW.

Mr Veeraswami said the growth in power demand was fuelled by the growth in industrial investment in the State and the Government’s concerted efforts to enhance power supply to all segments of the society.
READ MORE - TNEB entering tie ups for captive coal mines

Meghalaya NGOs call for CBI probe into jailbreak incident

Shillong , June 20 : Days after the daring jailbreak by seven convicts here, a forum of 14 NGOs today asked Meghalaya Chief Minister D D Lapang to recommend a CBI probe into the incident and demanded the removal of the DGP.

"In view of the want of confidence in the state police about the entire jailbreak incident,"a CBI probe into the entire episode can be instituted, the 14-organisation Meghalaya Steering Committee Against the Murder of Democracy (SCAMOD) demanded here.

"To ensure a fair and unprejudiced probe by CBI, the incumbent Director General of Police be immediately removed from the present post", SCAMOD said in a memorandum, signed by its Convenor Agnes Kharshiing, to Lapang.

Hinting at the complicity of a nominated member of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council, who had earlier been arrested but released shortly afterwards, the forum urged the Chief Minister that in the interest of the rule of law, the new Investigating Officer (IO) should not be&aposinfluenced&aposin doing his duty.
READ MORE - Meghalaya NGOs call for CBI probe into jailbreak incident

Jailbreak report reveals laxity

Shillong, June 17 : A departmental inquiry into the recent jailbreak here has revealed a passive approach on the part of the then additional director-general of police (inspector-general of prisons) Anil Pradhan and the superintendent of Shillong jail, Paize Warjri, for overall laxity in the jail administration.
The report, recently submitted to the minister in charge of home (jails), Paul Lyngdoh, a copy of which is available with The Telegraph, revealed that according to the jail manual, the inspector-general of prisons is to inspect the jail once a year and submit a detailed report regarding the jail administration. However, the last inspection of Shillong jail was done only in February last year when Kulbir Krishan was in charge.
Moreover, “the inspector general is required to submit to the government by April 15 every year a detailed report on the jail administration, which was not submitted in 2008 and 2009”, the report said. It was in March 2008 that Krishan had handed over charge of prisons to Pradhan.
Though the report does not mention the name of Pradhan directly, it refers to the lapses during his tenure. The report indicates that after Pradhan took over, no proper inspection was carried out, nor any detailed report on the jail administration submitted in April 2008 and 2009, which is mandatory.
Pradhan continued to be the inspector-general of prisons till May 18 this year before being appointed the new director-general of police of Meghalaya, replacing Krishan.
The inquiry report said gadgets like door-frame metal detector and CCTV were not functional for a long time. The alarm did not go off when the jailbreak occurred. It also said that telephone line of the Shillong jail was disconnected because of non-payment of dues since January this year.
“The superintendent of Shillong jail, Paize Warjri, had taken a half day casual leave on May 29 and did not visit the jail on May 30. He only arrived after the jailbreak on May 31,” the report pointed out.
Warji was, in fact, indicted by the CBI in 2002 for allegedly substituting a prisoner, Rusith Sangma, with Doyalian Kaipang, an accused in the murder case, who went missing from Shillong jail. Both Warjri and the jailer, Denis Warkhyllew, were suspended recently.
READ MORE - Jailbreak report reveals laxity

Meghalaya to decongest Shillong jail

SHILLONG: With the sensational May 31 jailbreak bringing to light the pitiable condition of the Shillong District Jail, the state government has initiated measures to decongest the jail. The government wants to complete the ongoing construction work in the Ri-Bhoi, Nongpoh and Nongstoin jails in West Khasi Hills as soon as possible.

"Dealing with Shillong jail's overcrowding problem is part of the jail reform initiated by the government," official sources said. The recent jailbreak in Shillong prompted the government to announce a slew of measures to improve the state's jail administration.

Minister in charge of jails Paul Lyngdoh inspected the ongoing work at the Nongpoh jail, which is located at Mawsyntai, 7 km from the district headquarters on Saturday.

He said construction of the Nongpoh jail with an enhanced capacity of 100 would be completed by March 2010.

The minister said prisoners would be shifted from the overcrowded Shillong jail to the jails at Nongpoh and Nongstoin. "The construction work at Nongpoh jail that began in 2005, has been delayed due to certain constraints, especially the revised estimate cost of the project with escalating prices of raw materials," Lyngdoh said. Initially, the cost of the Nongpoh jail was estimated at Rs 5.50 crore. At present, there are 65 prisoners including 50 males and 15 females in the Nongpoh jail.
READ MORE - Meghalaya to decongest Shillong jail

NCP pins Lapang on jailbreakNCP pins Lapang on jailbreak

Conrad Sangma questions ‘integrity’ of Meghalaya govt
Shillong, June 15 : The Nationalist Congress Party will draw the attention of the D.D. Lapang-led Meghalaya United Alliance government to the shoddy inquiry into the Shillong jailbreak during the Assembly session beginning Friday.
The NCP, the principal Opposition in the state, will also demand a CBI inquiry into the chain of events leading to the escape of seven undertrial prisoners led by Full Moon Dhar on May 31.
NCP legislator Conrad Sangma today told this correspondent that flawed investigation into the jailbreak had raised doubts about the integrity of the state government.
“These events caused huge embarrassment to the police department and the state government,” Sangma, the leader of the Opposition, said.
According to him, police should be allowed to complete the inquiry independently without political interference.
“We want the chief minister to ensure a free and fair inquiry without outside interference to expedite the investigation process.”
According to Sangma, an impartial probe would go a long way in restoring the faith of the people of Meghalaya in the state’s judiciary and the executive.
“Let us not forget that this is not just a simple case of a sensational jailbreak; it is a case involving the rape and murder of two innocent women in a state that boasts of a matrilineal society and women empowerment.”
In such an environment of insecurity, people across Meghalaya and the country were expressing shock, frustration and anger expressed at the public rally on Friday that was spearheaded by more than 20 NGOs, he said.
The NGOs were protesting against the release of the Congress’s nominated member to Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council, Thomas Nongtdu, an accused in the jailbreak incident.
Nongtdu was arrested on the night of June 3 on charges of handing over Rs 3 lakh to Dhar through his girlfriend, Evatiplang Kharkongor, to purchase arms for the jailbreak. He was, however, released within 48 hours. Lapang assured the NGOs that he would re-open the case.
According to Sangma, the case should be handed over to the CBI because there is a fear of further political interference.
Had the government taken appropriate action and not allowed any interference in the investigations, things would not have reached this stage, he alleged.
READ MORE - NCP pins Lapang on jailbreakNCP pins Lapang on jailbreak

Shillong jail over-crowded with inmates

 Shillong | June 14  : Meghalaya's lackadaisical judicial system is manifested from the present 277 under trial prisoners (UTPs) in the Shillong district jail that housed 313 inmates. Although there are 20 odd convicts who are mostly involved in murder cases, the rest that includes hard core criminals, militants and petty criminals who have been languishing in the jail without proper trial for a period varying from two months to four years.
The overcrowded jail that housed these inmates is now stuffed up with prisoners that are beyond its capacity and all thanks go to the state judicial system and the police. During the interaction with the prisoners recently, the UTPs' frustration is clearly visible. A young UTP in the 20s told NNN, “I admitted of having burglary but six months is just too long for me to sit in the four walls”. Another youth accused of assaulting a police sub inspector also pleads saying, “I repent for the mistake but jail me as per the crime I have committed”.
Interestingly, these two prisoners who spoke to NNN on condition of anonymity said, “We have not been charge-sheeted till today and we can’t afford to jump bail because our parents are too poor to pay bonds”. Even a hard core criminal who is booked under the National Security Act (NSA) vouched for some of his inmates. These boys who are caught for minor cases will not reform if they are forced by circumstances to stay inside the jail.
"This jail is to reform people but nearly a year of detention for theft and burglary is more than what they deserved’, said, R Konwar. Konwar who is under detention for dacoity and murder even cited his other friends in the jail as people who could not get justice because the process of the trial is too slow. Maximum of those lodged in the jail said that their stay in the jail is frustrating especially when the police refused even to charge sheet them for the alleged crimes.
"I have been arrested from Darjeeling for a case of kidnapping, yet I languished here without knowing the content of the police allegations nor been given a chance to defend myself”, stated another criminal on condition of anonymity, adding, “Every time I am taken to court, I am simply made to appear and then send back to jail”. Most of these who spoke to NNN have similar complaints. Even the jail officials admitted that 80% of the inmates have been languishing in the jail without proper trial. Besides slow trials and lethargic police prosecution work, the absence of a fast tract court further congested the jail which is now housing double than its actual capacity. 
READ MORE - Shillong jail over-crowded with inmates

NCP sacks Sangma son

New Delhi, June 14 : The Nationalist Congress Party today removed Purno A. Sangma’s son Conrad from the post of youth wing president without informing him, in a direct slight to a family seen as cosying up to the Congress.
Sharad Pawar’s party today replaced Conrad with Rajeev Jha, a young Bihar leader who had been the working president of the youth wing.
The NCP officially cited Conrad’s increased workload after being appointed leader of the Opposition in the Meghalaya Assembly as the reason for replacing him.
But Conrad said he was surprised by the move that comes just eight days after his father, once Sonia Gandhi’s loudest critic, apologised to the Congress chief, embarrassing the NCP.
“I have not been informed about the move to replace me. I am surprised that I am hearing this from you,” Conrad told this correspondent today.
Sangma, a former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, formed the NCP along with party chief Pawar and Tariq Anwar in 1999 after their expulsion from the Congress for opposing Sonia’s leadership.
The NCP was formed over their disagreement with the Congress on allowing an individual of foreign origin to hold the top post in the Congress.
Sangma briefly left the NCP to join Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress in 2004 after Pawar and Sonia decided to fight the 2004 Lok Sabha elections together.
He subsequently rejoined the NCP but remained a staunch critic of Sonia and, earlier this year, openly worked to build an alliance with her party’s chief national opponent, the BJP, in Meghalaya.
But Manmohan Singh’s decision to induct Sangma’s daughter Agatha into his council of ministers may have softened him
On June 5, Sangma and his daughter visited Sonia to invite her to Conrad’s wedding.
Sangma then apologised for opposing her leadership, triggering speculation that he may be close to joining the Congress and that the NCP may also merge with the parent party.
Although Sangma and the NCP have denied returning to their parent party, the apology embarrassed the party, leaders admitted privately.
READ MORE - NCP sacks Sangma son

Meghalaya govt to reopen Shillong jailbreak case

Shillong, June 14 : Bowing to pressure from social organisations against the release of a Congress leader, who was allegedly involved in the Shillong jailbreak incident, Meghalaya government on Friday agreed to reopen the case.

After a meeting with Chief Minister D D Lapang, Khasi Students Union president Samuel Jyrwa told reporters here that the state government had agreed to re-investigate the entire jailbreak episode.

On May 31, a hardcore criminal, Fullmoon Dhar, and six other undertrials escaped from the Shillong District Jail.

A Congress leader Thomas Nongtdu, also a member of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC), was arrested for allegedly abetting the jailbreak, but was unconditionally released a day later under controversial circumstances.
READ MORE - Meghalaya govt to reopen Shillong jailbreak case

Meghalaya Govt caught in a girlfriend's jailbreak story

When serial killer, rapist and hitman Fullmoon Dhar was shot dead by the police after he staged a jailbreak with six other prisoners late last month, it was just the beginning of a sordid series of revelations that raised questions about the politician-criminal nexus in Meghalaya.

While, this connection was first brought to light with the June 3 arrest of Congress leader Thomas Nongtdu for financing the prison escape, the controversy heightened with his release only days later.

Now, 20 NGOs under the banner of the Steering Committee Against Murder of Democracy (SCAMD) are calling for a CBI investigation into the case and are expected launch an agitation on June 12 against the D D Lapang-led Government.

To get to the bottom of the jailbreak, the police acted swiftly and arrested Dhar's girlfriend Ibatiplang Kharkongor, who soon implicated powerful politician and businessman Nongtdu, a member of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC).

Kharkongor alleged that Nongtdu had given her Rs 1 lakh to buy arms and to smuggle them to Dhar. Based on information provided by Kharkongor, the police arrested the Congress leader. However, even as further investigations brought to the fore indications that Dhar had also been a contract killer for some state politicians, Nongtdu was released by the police who claimed that the Jaintia Hills politician could not be arrested on the basis of accusations from a "mentally unstable" woman.

By Tilak Rai
READ MORE - Meghalaya Govt caught in a girlfriend's jailbreak story

Minister Agatha Sangma will be in Manipur soon

Imphal, June 11 : Agatha Sangma, the NCP Member of Parliament (MP) from Meghalaya and the youngest Union minister will be visiting the state of Manipur on June 17.The new minister of states (MoS) for rural development will be here to honour the closing ceremony of the 11th Foundation Day of the NCP, Manipur.

Informing of this during a celebration of the foundation day at its office in Thangmeiband of Imphal West district, president of the state party, Radhabinod Koijam stated the daughter of PA Sangma, leader of the NCP will be in the state on June 17 to grace the closing ceremony of the party's anniversary.

Addressing the gathering further, the president of the state wing asserted the NCP being a national political party from the North East region was thorough with the needs and aspirations of the region adding the party will leave no stone unturned to solve the regional problems.

He, however, lamented the situation of the state where money was becoming a factor during elections observing a gangster could become the chief minister and other ministers of the state after ten years or so.

Radhabinod also held it unfortunate that many innocent people with good moral and personality with willingness to serve the state were unable to come forward due to lack of money power for elections.

In this situation, gangsters with money could become the ministers of the state someday, he added.

Asserting further that a certain candidate had spent over Rs.1 crore during the last 15th Lok Sabha elections and that there were people played a double standard role in it, he warned it was time for the people of the state to analyse the situation.
READ MORE - Minister Agatha Sangma will be in Manipur soon

Meghalaya Govt caught in a girlfriend’s jailbreak story

Shillong: When serial killer, rapist and hitman Fullmoon Dhar was shot dead by the police after he staged a jailbreak with six other prisoners late last month, it was just the beginning of a sordid series of revelations that raised questions about the politician-criminal nexus in Meghalaya.

While, this connection was first brought to light with the June 3 arrest of Congress leader Thomas Nongtdu for financing the prison escape, the controversy heightened with his release only days later. Now, 20 NGOs under the banner of the Steering Committee Against Murder of Democracy (SCAMD) are calling for a CBI investigation into the case and are expected launch an agitation on June 12 against the D D Lapang-led Government.

To get to the bottom of the jailbreak, the police acted swiftly and arrested Dhar’s girlfriend Ibatiplang Kharkongor, who soon implicated powerful politician and businessman Nongtdu, a member of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC).

Kharkongor alleged that Nongtdu had given her Rs 1 lakh to buy arms and to smuggle them to Dhar. Based on information

provided by Kharkongor, the police arrested the Congress leader. However, even as further investigations brought to the fore indications that Dhar had also been a contract killer for some state politicians, Nongtdu was released by the police who claimed that the Jaintia Hills politician could not be arrested on the basis of accusations from a “mentally unstable” woman.
READ MORE - Meghalaya Govt caught in a girlfriend’s jailbreak story

UDP vocal on Nongtdu case

Shillong, June 9 : The UDP, a major coalition partner in the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance, has asked the government to re-open the Thomas Nongtdu case.
Nongtdu, a Congress-nominated member of the Jaintia Hills District Autonomous Council, was arrested on Wednesday night for allegedly funding the escape of seven undertrial prisoners from Shillong jail but the government dropped all charges against him subsequently.
The unconditional release of the businessman-turned-politician evoked criticism from various quarters, including students and women’s groups, and the Opposition.
Taking exception to the government’s decision to drop all charges against Nongtdu, senior UDP leader and law minister Bindo Lanong told this correspondent today that he would raise the issue in the next cabinet meeting.
“We feel that the law should proceed in a normal way as everyone is equal in its eyes. It is a matter of concern when known politicians and traders involved in criminal activities are allowed to go free,” he said.
The erstwhile Speaker said police should not succumb to political interference, as the law was clear on dealing with crime. “I will definitely raise the issue in the cabinet so that justice can prevail.”
UDP president Donkupar Roy also said the police should be given a free hand to investigate the case. He said the trend of businessmen entering politics with criminal intentions was dangerous for democracy. The party’s parliamentary board meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, will discuss the matter, he added.
Nongtdu had allegedly paid Rs 3 lakh for the escape of the undertrial prisoners, led by Full Moon Dhar who was gunned down by security forces the day after the escape. A portion of the amount was used to bribe jail staff and purchase small arms.
The politician was arrested on the basis of the confession of Evatiplang Kharkongor, Dhar’s girlfriend. She had confessed that Nongtdu had given her money to be handed over to Dhar for the purpose of jailbreak.
The dropping of charges against Nongtdu and his unconditional release prompted, the Civil Society Women’s Organisation, an NGO, and the Opposition Nationalist Congress Party to demand a CBI inquiry into the matter.
The Khasi Students’ Union also expressed concern over the manner in which Nongtdu was released.
The women’s organisation demanded that lie detection and brain mapping tests should be conducted on Nongtdu and Kharkongor, adds PTI.
The police, on the other hand, claimed that Kharkongor’s confession could not be accepted as evidence against Nongtdu because she was “mentally ill”.
READ MORE - UDP vocal on Nongtdu case

More deployment, technology on eastern borders: BSF

Shillong, June 8 The government is now giving equal priority to the eastern frontiers of the country as the western borders by strengthening the Border Security Force (BSF) and providing force-multiplier technology along the 4,095-km-long border with Bangladesh, a BSF official said here Monday.

The ministry of home affairs has sanctioned Rs.80 billion to the BSF to raise additional battalions, to procure modern gadgets and other assets, mainly to be used in the vulnerable northeast, the official said.

“BSF Director General M.L. Kumawat asked the commanders and jawans to step up their vigil along the borders with Bangladesh as the eastern frontier of India is an easy corridor for terrorists, infiltrators and forces inimical to India,” the official said, citing the force chief’s address to commanding officers and personnel here Sunday.

The BSF chief was on a three-day visit to review the security scenario along the country’s frontiers in Assam and Meghalaya, as well as counter-insurgency operations by BSF personnel in Assam.

According to the BSF chief, the present Sheikh Hasina Wajed-led government in Bangladesh appeared to be more receptive to India’s concerns, unlike the previous governments. He said that the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) chief, during his visit to New Delhi two months back, had assured of action against Indian terror outfits taking shelter in that country. Dhaka has also assured New Delhi that it would not allow Indian separatists to use its territory to carry out anti-India activities.

Kumawat also said that there were indications of mounting pressures on the northeast India militant outfits in Bangladesh as the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and other terror groups are desperately trying to find safer places elsewhere.

The BSF chief is scheduled to visit Dhaka soon to pursue all pending bilateral issues with Bangladesh which shares a 4,095-km border with India along three northeastern states and West Bengal.

India has expedited efforts to complete construction of fencing along the frontier with Bangladesh by 2013, while 29 additional battalions of the BSF will be raised and 500 new Border Outposts (BoPs) set up, most of which will be located in India’s porous and sensitive northeastern region, especially on the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Currently, over 70 BSF battalions are deployed along the Indo-Bangladesh border as well as for counter-insurgency operations in the northeast.

The BSF chief also said that to maintain effective vigil along the frontier with Bangladesh in the northeast, distance between two BoPs would be reduced from the present 4.5 km to 2.8 km, considering the peculiar topography of the region.

With a strength of about 157 battalions, the BSF is considered as one of the world’s largest border guard forces.
READ MORE - More deployment, technology on eastern borders: BSF

Lapang under fire in Shillong jailbreak controversy

Shillong, June 08: The new D D Lapang-led Congress government in Meghalaya on Monday came under fire from Khasi Students' Union (KSU) and other organisations, who are alleging a nexus between politicians, businessmen and criminals behind the recent Shillong jailbreak incident.

The influential KSU slammed the Congress-led government for making "a mockery of law" by releasing Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) member Thomas Nongtdu within 48 hours of his arrest despite his alleged links with the slain criminal Fullmoon Dhar.

They are demanding that he should be re-arrested and "the involvement of politicians and businessmen in the Shillong jailbreak should be exposed".

Accusing the state government of lawlessness and blatant misuse of power in the wake of the jailbreak, KSU president Samuel Jyrwa expressed shock at the government's decision to drop all charges against Nongtdu even after revelations by the slain gangster's girlfriend Ibatiplang Kharkongor and Shillong Jail Warden Tobias Dkhar that the businessman-turned-politician had given money to Dhar.

Nongtdu was arrested last week on the charge of financing the purchase of arms for the jail-breakers.

Another influential organisation, the Civil Society Women's Organisation (CSWO) has demanded that lie detection and brain mapping tests should be conducted on Nongtdu and Ibatiplang to unearth the nexus behind the jailbreak.

Police, on the other hand, has claimed that the confession of Ibatiplang cannot be accepted as evidence against the JHADC member because she is "mentally ill".

CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing is demanding a CBI probe into the incident.

Dhar and six other under-trial prisoners had escaped from Shillong district jail on May 31 while they were being escorted for collecting firewoods. Dhar was killed in an encounter later on, while all the other escapees were caught in a police operation.
READ MORE - Lapang under fire in Shillong jailbreak controversy

New BSF border outposts, additional battalions in the offing

Shillong , June 7 : The Union home ministry has sanctioned Rs 8,000 crore to raise additional battalions, border outposts (BOP) and other assets to be located mostly in the Northeast, BSF Director-General, M L Kumawat, said today.

In all, 509 new BOPs would be raised in the country of which 383 alone would be located in the Northeast. The Assam sector would have six new BOPs and Meghalaya 17, Kumawat said during a visit to the Assam- Meghalaya Frontier headquarters here.

Another 29 new battalions, nine DIG offices and three new frontiers headquarters would be raised within the next four years, he said, addressing the media.

As the western sector now is relatively well fenced, most of the new BOPs and offices would be located in the Northeast, the DG said.

The distance between two BOPs would be reduced ideally by up to 3.5 kms, he said, adding, the fencing work on the Indo-Bangladesh border would be expedited and completed within the next four years.
READ MORE - New BSF border outposts, additional battalions in the offing

Charges dropped against Nongtdu

Shillong, June 6 : Meghalaya police, allegedly under pressure from higher-ups, today dropped all charges against Thomas Nongtdu, the Congress-nominated member of Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council, who was arrested for funding the mastermind of the recent jailbreak here.
Police officials were tight-lipped about the manner in which the accused, arrested on Wednesday night, obtained bail and the subsequent dropping of charges against him.
Expressing concern over the haste in which Nongtdu was released, Agnes Kharshiing, the president of Civil Society Women’s Organisation, an NGO, said the government should take the matter seriously and DGP Anil Pradhan should be urged to re-investigate the case.
“We fear there is political interference, leading to the release of the Congress MDC. It appears that the DGP wants to slow down the investigation,” she said.
She added that it was illogical that the police did not ask for Nongtdu’s custody. The fact that he was released today after being remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody yesterday has not failed to raise eyebrows.Former chief minister Donkupar Roy today asked chief minister D.D. Lapang to give the police a free hand to investigate the jailbreak.
READ MORE - Charges dropped against Nongtdu

2 Shillong jail officials suspended

Steps to prevent jailbreaks
Shillong, June 6 : Meghalaya home (jail) minister Paul Lyngdoh today suspended two senior officials of Shillong jail for various lapses in the prison which had led to the escape of seven undertrials recently.
Superintendent of Shillong jail Paize Warjri and jailer Denis Warkhyllew were suspended for negligence of duty during the jailbreak.
The action against the jail officials was based on the inquiry report of the additional director-general of police (prisons), Kulbir Krishan, who submitted the report on the jailbreak to the state government yesterday.
Addressing a news conference, Lyngdoh said departmental action would be initiated against both these officials.
Following the jailbreak, Full Moon Dhar, the leader of the gang who had escaped from the jail, was shot dead. The other six prisoners were later captured.
Thereafter, six jail staff, Edward Wahlang, Raju Sunar, Sajan Kumar Rai, Tobias Dkhar, Bharat Singh and W. Myrboh were suspended while the services of a cook were terminated.
Lyngdoh said new officers would be posted at the jail.
He said according to the inquiry report, some staff were found guilty by way of collusion with the prisoners or by way of dereliction of duty.
Lyngdoh said the major flaw in the jail administration was that the same staff continued to work at the jail for several years and had made friends with the prisoners.
“Hence, we have decided to transfer the staff after every three years,” he said.
With frequent jailbreaks in the state, the government is also contemplating to initiate a slew of measures, including strengthening of security system and reshuffling of staff in all the jails in the state.
“We are convinced that tough measures need to be taken to have quality jail staff along with the installation of security equipment in all the jails in Meghalaya,” he said.
The measures include introduction of uniforms for the prisoners and jail warders, installation of CCTV, electronic sliding gates and separate cells for hardcore criminals.
To a question on Warjri who was earlier indicted by the CBI, Lyngdoh said the pending cases would be examined to prevent similar jailbreaks in the future.
The CBI had indicted Warjri for his involvement in a case related to a prisoner, Rusith Sangma. In 1994, Sangma was substituted as Doyalian Kaipeng, an accused in a murder case, after Sangma probably died in custody.
Though the CBI in its report in 2002 had asked the state government to initiate disciplinary action against Warjri and the officials involved in the crime, no action had been taken till date.
READ MORE - 2 Shillong jail officials suspended

Maitshaphrang urges Govt to introduce Marriage BillMaitshaphrang, an NGO, urged Chief Minister D D Lapang to introduce the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill and the Equitable Distribution of Self Acquired and Ancestral property Bill in the coming budget session of the Assembly. In a letter written to the Chief Minister, Maitshaphrang convenor Michel N Syiem said the NGO had, since 1985, launched an awareness campaign among the people on the importance of having the two bills to speed up all round development of the state and ensure protection of indigenous people. The convenor said because of the peculiar inheritance system practised by the indigenous people these laws could not be taken up in isolation but had to be taken up simultaneously.

Maitshaphrang, an NGO, urged Chief Minister D D Lapang to introduce the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill and the Equitable Distribution of Self Acquired and Ancestral property Bill in the coming budget session of the Assembly.

In a letter written to the Chief Minister, Maitshaphrang convenor Michel N Syiem said the NGO had, since 1985, launched an awareness campaign among the people on the importance of having the two bills to speed up all round development of the state and ensure protection of indigenous people.

The convenor said because of the peculiar inheritance system practised by the indigenous people these laws could not be taken up in isolation but had to be taken up simultaneously.
READ MORE - Maitshaphrang urges Govt to introduce Marriage BillMaitshaphrang, an NGO, urged Chief Minister D D Lapang to introduce the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Bill and the Equitable Distribution of Self Acquired and Ancestral property Bill in the coming budget session of the Assembly. In a letter written to the Chief Minister, Maitshaphrang convenor Michel N Syiem said the NGO had, since 1985, launched an awareness campaign among the people on the importance of having the two bills to speed up all round development of the state and ensure protection of indigenous people. The convenor said because of the peculiar inheritance system practised by the indigenous people these laws could not be taken up in isolation but had to be taken up simultaneously.

Governor’s post for Kyndiah

Kyndiah: new role
Shillong, June 3 : Former Union tribal affairs minister P.R. Kyndiah, who opted out of the recent Lok Sabha elections, will be rewarded with the post of governor.
A state Congress source today said as a reward for opting out of the fray from the Shillong Lok Sabha seat and giving a chance to newcomer Vincent Pala, the former MP will be appointed a governor.
The source added that he was likely to be posted either in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh or Goa.
Soon after he decided not to contest the Lok Sabha elections, Kyndiah said he would remain in active politics.
Kyndiah took his decision primarily because of his advanced years. Moreover, he wanted to give the younger generation a chance.
Kyndiah had won the Shillong Lok Sabha seat in 1998 and also the midterm poll in 1999. He was re-elected from Shillong in 2004 and became a cabinet minister in the UPA government.
For a few years, he had served as the DoNER minister besides having the post of Union tribal affairs ministry.
From 1993 to 1998, he had served as the governor of Mizoram.
Kyndiah started his political career in the seventies.
He was cabinet minister of Meghalaya four times from 1975 to 1988 and also served as the Speaker of the Meghalaya Assembly from 1989 to 1993.
READ MORE - Governor’s post for Kyndiah

Give us districts, then build Tipaimukh dam: Hmar rebels

Source: Lalmalsawm Sungte *

Imphal, June 3 :
The Hmar National Army (HNA) which claimed to represent the Hmar community has said it will support the Government of India in implementing the controversial Tipaimukh Dam project on the confluence of Tuiruong and Tuivai rivers in Manipur only if their demands are met by the Centre and implementing agencies, among them creation of separate districts for the Hmar people in all northeast States where the community predominantly reside.

"The HNA", it said "is willing to employ all means under its disposal to help in implementing the project and at the same time expect the Government of India to meet" their terms and condtitions.

In a memorandum (a copy of which is available with Inpui-news&info) submitted to the President of India, Ms Pratibha Patil, on February 7, 2009, the group said that they would not oppose the construction of Tipaimukh dam if the Union government agrees to craved out separate districts for the Hmar tribe in "each N.E States" where the Hmars have a sizeable population.

Among the other demands put up by the relatively new, yet fast growing influential rebel group include: reservation of "80% of all proposed staffs to be appointed in the grade III and IV and all non-technical contract works for the be raised/awarded only from directly affected peoples", staff to be appointed by "NEEPCO be routed through Employment Exchange and office of Employment Exchange be constructed in the Tipaimukh area/ Dam site", formation of "labour and contractor association be form under the initiative of Dam affected people" and that "contract works be awarded only to (those) who are duly registered with the Association for the safety of the staffs and local people".

The HNA also said that it wanted the MoU signed by the Manipur government and NEEPCO on Jan 9, 2003 be be "implemented in toto".

The deal had mentioned about the rights of the indegenous Hmar community over their lands and plans to alleviate their economic conditions.

Besides, the organisation also made it made it clear that "no Meetei's (read Manipuri) be allow to enter Tipaimukh (Hmarram) area and the dam site".

" "HNA is bound to object their entry under any circumstances and this should not be construed as an attempt to ignite communal tension but rather to protect its people (Hmar tribe) from further onslaught of Meetei people," the HNA memorandum claimed.

The HNA's memmorandum issue in the name of its secretary to c-in-c Mr Joseph L.Lungtau and 'deputy c-in-c' Mr Ng Darngawn, Manipur Region, further said that "if suggestion(s) and demand(s) put foreward were accepted by (the) GoI, HNA will be under moral obligation to strengthen the hand of GoI and NEEPCO and would not hesitate to make supreme sacrifice as it feel that welfare and well-being of its people are paradoxically link to the Tipaimukh Dam".

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh there has been growing concern about the proposed Tipaimukh dam with opposition leader Khaleda Zia and her party taking up the issue.

Media reports also indicated that India is trying hard to allay Bangaldesh fear over the mega-hydel project which, scientists say, could create drought-like conditions in that country besides other environmental destructions.

* The writer of this news can be contacted at lalmalsawm(at)gmail(dot)com .
READ MORE - Give us districts, then build Tipaimukh dam: Hmar rebels

Shillong hosts Indian Panorama Film Festival

SHILLONG - The Indian Panorama Film Festival was recently held in Shillong to the delight for all film lovers.

The three-day film festival was organised by the Directorate of Film Festivals (DFF) in collaboration with the Government of Meghalaya.

The festival presented a veritable bouquet of small-budget regional movies based on several themes from all over the country, especially related to the North East.

It was a first of its kind festival held in the Northeast.

The festival commenced with the inaugural film ‘Yarwng’, that was screened on May 29.
The film portrays the trauma of displaced tribal people of Tripura.

“I think it is important that people attend film festival because film festivals are an opportunity, where a lot of interaction can take place. Filmmakers and viewers and people who are interested in this medium can meet each other and exchange ideas. It always give rise to something nice, something creative, that is the best part of the film festival that I can see,” said Joseph Pulinthanaths Kokborok, director of ‘Yarwng’.

Other regional movies screened at the festival were ‘Mudhal Mudhal Mudhal Varai’ in Tamil by Krishnan Sheshadri Gomatam, ‘Ataya-langal’ in Malayam by MG Sasi and ‘Gubaa-chi-galu’ in Kanada by Abhaya Simha.

The film festival was held at the U Soso Tham Auditorium, State Central Library in Shillong.
The festival clearly showed that the North East has a multi-faceted talent, and that the governments of the region should promote and encourage filmmaking.
READ MORE - Shillong hosts Indian Panorama Film Festival

Leader of the criminals who escaped from jail was ”preacher”

Shillong, Hardcore criminal and leader of the seven under trial prisoners Fullmoon Dhar, who escaped from jail in Shillong, was a ”peace preacher” inside the jail.

In all, seven hardcore under trial prisoners, including serial killers and rapists, escaped yesterday morning after overpowering prison guards.

Informed sources said he used to preach messages from the Bible to his inmates and even lead the church service every Sunday which helped him garner many friends among the inmates.

He often advised his inmates not to involve in bad habits and commit criminal activities.

However, this was only a trick of Mr Dhar to show his innocence and mislead the police and staff.

His main purpose was to escape from the jail, the sources said.

In fact, Mr Dhar was a hardcore criminal, a prime accused in a twin murder case and was arrested in September last year. There are five cases registered against him since 2004, including extortion, rape, kidnapping and possessing illegal arms, the sources added.
READ MORE - Leader of the criminals who escaped from jail was ”preacher”