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 Violence on the Independence Day

The day ‘15 August’ occupies a special place in the heart of every Indian. On this specific day, the whole country celebrates the Freedom from the foreign invasion, hoisting flags, honoring the freedom fighters and celebrating the patriotism encrypted within each of us. But Meghalaya, a part of the Northeast state India was grueling with violence on the death of the leader not the freedom fighter but the ‘ex-militant leader’.

Few questions had been brewing around…Was it necessary to conduct funeral on the Independence Day? Marching ahead with the black flags instead of the country’s tri-color flag? Or was it necessary to be so aggressive on the death of the militant who was once responsible to form the militancy group, engaged into extortion and taking innocent lives. But yet his demise was chosen to be mourned on the National Day.

Elaborating the dilemma, curfew was imposed in Shillong on the day of the Independence Day, and mobile internet stopped in at least four districts of Meghalaya amid vandalism and arson reason being the police encounter of a top militant leader following the barbarism of stray incidents disturbing the public peace and tranquility causing a threat to public safety.  

Hundreds of people joined the funeral of former HNLC leader. People wore black clothes and were on the road with black flags observing August 15 as Black Flag Day. Several pictures and videos of miscreants’ stone pelting, attacking, and vandalising of police vehicles went viral.

One SUV, a police vehicle was set ablaze. Two petrol bombs were also hurled on Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s private residence in the Upper Shillong area on the night of Independence Day.

Here the story goes of the alleged encounter of the ex-militant leader...

As per the Meghalaya Police

It may be mentioned that, the HNLC had claimed responsibility for the IED blasts held on 10 August 2021 in a crowded market in Shillong. Two local persons were injured in the explosion. Earlier in the month of July, a similar Improvised Explosive Device was detonated near the police barrack in Khliehriat where a police personnel sustained injuries and public properties were damaged. After the IED attack, Meghalaya Police arrested three militants who were suspected to be connected with the attacks. After interrogation, two of the suspects named Thangkhiew for his alleged involvement in the attacks. According to police, Thangkhiew was suspected to be the mastermind behind the IED attacks across the state since his surrender.

Director-General of Police R Chandranathan said that there was ample evidence against Chesterfield Thangkhiew when he sent his team to arrest the “retired” General-Secretary of the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). Thangkhiew allegedly attacked the police with a knife when his home was being raided, provoking a retaliatory shot in which he was killed.

The Encounter of Cheristerfield Thangkhiew

He was encountered in the early hours of 13 August by the police at his residence in Mawlai-Kynton Massar in Shillong. Reports said that the deceased militant's residence was earlier raided in the wee hours in connection with the IED blasts across the state recently. Upon entering the house, he wielded a knife and attacked one of the constables, after which he was shot down in retaliation. Meghalaya Police confirmed that Thangkhiew after being shot was rushed to the Civil Hospital, but was declared dead upon arrival.

In the meantime, Meghalaya Police has taken under custody two of his accomplices for further interrogation. According to the action team, they recovered a sophisticated firearm; digital documents archived in a laptop and encrypted mobile phones from his residence.


Allegations of ‘Fake Encounter’

Thangkhiew’s family has alleged it to be a “cold-blooded murder” by the police and localities have also described it as a fake encounter.

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