Meghalaya govt. toughens stand against BJP leader accused of running brothel

The State BJP leadership attributed the police raid at Bernard R. Marak’s farmhouse to political vendetta

Updated - July 26, 2022 03:54 pm IST

Published - July 26, 2022 01:27 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Bernerd Marak.

Bernerd Marak. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

GUWAHATI The National People’s Party-led Meghalaya government has toughened its stand against the State BJP vice-president and former extremist, Bernard R. Marak, accused of running a brothel from his 30-room farmhouse.

The government’s reaction came after Meghalaya BJP president Ernest Mawrie stood by Mr. Marak and demanded the withdrawal of all charges “laced with political motivations” against him.

Mr. Marak, on the run, blamed the raid on a “conspiracy” hatched by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma to eliminate him from competition in politics. He also accused the Chief Minister of using the police to kill him. 

Mr. Sangma has refrained from reacting to these accusations. His party, the NPP, has been silent too.

But senior party leader and Meghalaya’s Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said the charges against Mr. Marak would not be withdrawn.

“We cannot withdraw the charges just because the accused is a BJP vice-president. The law is the same for everyone,” he told journalists in State capital Shillong after the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Tura issued a non-bailable warrant against the “absconding” Mr. Marak on July 25.

The BJP leader’s farmhouse is at Edenbari on the outskirts of Tura, the second-largest town in Meghalaya and the hub of Garo tribal politics. The BJP leader, a Garo, is believed to have been trying to dislodge the Chief Minister, a fellow tribesman, as the power centre in the Garo Hills comprising almost the western half of the State.

Mr. Tynsong said the law would take its own course whether or not the BJP leadership exerted pressure to withdraw the charges against its vice-president.

“Raiding the house of Ministers or political leaders is nothing new. They police raided the farmhouse after working on the case for weeks and collecting all the evidence,” he said.

He insisted the government, of which the BJP is a minor partner, was not being vindictive against a BJP leader who had been campaigning against graft in the NPP-led Garo Hills Autonomous District Council besides accusing the Chief Minister and his parliamentarian sister, Agatha Sangma, of misappropriating funds through “ghost projects” in their constituencies.

Mr .Tynsong insisted the government was not being vindictive. “There is a serious case against him and the police should be allowed to do their job,” he said.

Assembly panel steps in

The Meghalaya Assembly Committee on Empowerment of Women has asked the State’s Social Welfare Department to update it on the status of the five minors rescued from the BJP leader’s farmhouse. A report has been sought on August 8.

“The rescue of the minors after the raid on July 22 has been verified. It is an offence against which women must rally together. It is our duty to highlight such crimes,” the committee’s chairperson and suspended Congress MLA, Ampareen Lyngdoh said.

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