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Minors rescued from Meghalaya BJP leader’s farmhouse

BJP leader Bernard Marak. File photo: Special Arrangement

BJP leader Bernard Marak. File photo: Special Arrangement

Meghalaya police have rescued five children from a BJP leader’s farmhouse that was allegedly run as a brothel.

The State’s Director-General of Police, L. R. Bishnoi said illicit liquor, about 500 packets of condoms and contraceptive tablets, cash, 37 vehicles, 47 mobile phones and incriminating documents were recovered from the farmhouse on the outskirts of Tura town, during an eight-hour raid on Friday night.

The police picked up 73 youths, including 23 females, and rescued five minors from the farmhouse owned by Bernard R. Marak, the vice-president of the Meghalaya BJP unit.

“The recoveries indicate the place was run as a brothel. He did not have any liquor license nor did he have a license to run the place,” Mr. Bishnoi told journalists on Saturday.

He said the police could not find Mr. Marak at his residence in Tura or in the State capital Shillong. His last location was near Guwahati.

The BJP leader, however, issued a statement saying the raid on his farmhouse was pre-planned. He also accused Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma of misusing the State machinery to settle personal scores.

“The raid was conducted without any warrant at the behest of the Chief Minister,” he said, adding the minors the police claimed to have rescued from his farmhouse were students whose studies he has been sponsoring.

“A warrant was not needed because this (raid) was in continuation of a case registered under the POCSO Act on February 28 after a minor girl went missing. Many of the youths the Tura police picked up were found in a compromising position,” Mr. Bishnoi said.

The missing girl was traced and it was ascertained that she was sexually assaulted several times over a week. She later told a court that she was taken along with a friend to the farmhouse and sexually assaulted by a man who had hired a room, the police said.

Mr. Marak, a former extremist, was the chairman of the now-disbanded A’chik National Volunteer Council (B) and had more than 25 criminal cases against him since the early 2000s. Police said he continued to indulge in criminal activities such as extortion, arms smuggling and encroachment even after the disbandment of the outfit.

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Printable version | Jul 24, 2022 7:40:17 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/minors-rescued-from-meghalaya-bjp-leaders-farmhouse/article65675693.ece