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Assailants of Kerala students will be caught: Meghalaya Minister

Meghalaya Home Minister Lakhmen Rymbui has said that the miscreants responsible for attacking two students from Kerala on June 24 would be brought to book.

The two students of social work from Kerala Central University have been interning with a Shillong-based NGO for a month. They were assaulted by some 30 motorcycle-borne youth in Jaiaw, a locality dominated by Khasi tribal people.

Two others, including a traffic police constable, were also assaulted in as many localities of the Meghalaya capital that day.

Condemning the incidents, Mr. Rymbui said the police were monitoring some critical areas of the capital. He denied that the authorities were turning a blind eye to assault cases that had become quite frequent.

“Registering of FIRs (first information reports) means action is being taken. Many people have been arrested and charge sheeted in such incidents in the past,” he said.

Meghalaya’s Director-General of Police L.R. Bishnoi said the police were analysing the CCTV footages in the trouble-prone areas for necessary action.

Local MLA, Adelbert Nongrum said such incidents were becoming a matter of concern. “Such incidents will bring a bad name to the State, constituency, locality and the community. People who have grievances should come forward for discussion and not resort to violence,” he said.

Rejak M. Sydeek and Sarath S. Thambi, the two Kerala students, said the staff of a restaurant they were in at the time of assault saved them from more harm. Some locals of the area also joined in to dissuade the bikers who attacked the duo with blunt objects and helmets all of a sudden. Sarath was punched in the face too.

Bariphylla Lyttan, representing Impulse NGO, said in the FIR filed at the local police station that the duo managed to escape with minor injuries with the help of some locals. The NGO sought strict action against the culprits as the students would carry a scar home.

“We don’t like to generalise Shillong and the people of Meghalaya with an isolated incident. The government and society should take moral responsibility to correct the attackers and get them on the right path,” Mr Sydeek said.

But Meghalaya has had a history of letting racial attackers off the hook. A case was filed against Patricia Mukhim, the editor of The Shillong Times, when she criticised the assault on five local non-tribal boys by some 20 tribal youth in July 2020. The five were thrashed with iron rods and sticks for playing basketball.

Ms. Mukhim had tagged Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma and slammed the headman of the locality in a Facebook post, saying the continued attack on non-tribals in Meghalaya was unacceptable. The headman construed this as promotion of enmity between two communities and filed a case, which the Supreme Court quashed a year later.

In January, some 25 boys assaulted a group of labourers from Assam with sticks and bamboo. Four of the labourers had to be hospitalised.

The local police had attributed the assault to a fake social media post saying a non-tribal hit squad had been formed to target tribal people.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2022 6:17:04 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assailants-of-kerala-students-will-be-caught-meghalaya-minister/article65567099.ece