Meghalaya minister promises swift action in attack on woman activist

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 10, 2018 20:56 hrs

Shillong, Nov 10 (IANS) Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma on Saturday promised swift action in the murderous assault on frontline women's activist Agnes Kharshiing in the coal belt area in East Jaintia Hills district.

Concerned citizens from all walks of life on Saturday staged a protest near the additional state Secretariat, and demanded an independent inquiry into the murderous attack on Kharshiing and her aide Amita Sangma.

"I assure you that the government will take swift action and will be bringing the guilty to justice. A case has been registered and two persons have been placed under arrest and the investigation is going on," Sangma told journalists.

Kharshiing is the president of an influential Civil Society Women's Organisation (CSWO).

The Home Minister cut short his family vacation to Europe and arrived in Shillong this morning in view of the murderous attacks. He visted the injured at the North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS).

On Thursday, Kharshiing along with Sangma and Kurbah were brutally assaulted by a group of some 40 people after the activist lodged a complaint on the illegal mining and transportation of coal in the district.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered an interim ban on "rat-hole" coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014, after the All Dimasa Students' Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before it, alleging that the water of the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in the Jaintia Hills.

Asked if the government supported the demand of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) for either a CBI or judicial probe into the attacks, Sangma said, "The police department is equipped to handle the case. We have already nabbed two suspects. So, we are quite hopeful that things will progress and we will be able to crack the case very soon."

Refusing to comment on the alleged nexus between coal mafia and the state police that has led to the attack on the activist, Sangma said, "I don't want to comment on speculation or anything like that."

"But we are seriously looking into this matter (alleged nexus between coal mafia and state police) whether it comes in the form of a judicial probe or magisterial inquiry. We are very serious about getting into the root of it," he said.

Meanwhile, officials at the NEIGRIHMS said that Kharshiing, was still in a "critical condition and on life support" while her aide Sangma is stable.

"Kharshiing is still on ventilator. She has multiple injuries but her pulse and blood pressure are normal so far. Sangma condition is stable. She is conscious and speaking," NEIGRIHMS spokesperson K.K. Pandita told IANS.

--IANS

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