The Meghalaya police have intensified the search for a State BJP leader accused of turning his farmhouse on the outskirts of Tura town into a brothel.
Bernard R. Marak, vice-president of the BJP’s Meghalaya unit, has been absconding since the police raided his 30-room farmhouse on July 22 evening. Apart from picking up 73 youth, both male and female — many of them in a “compromising position” — and five minors, the police seized about 500 packets of unused contraceptives, 168 litres of liquor, and other items that they said indicated the place was being run as a brothel.
“He [Marak] is probably in Delhi. He has claimed in a video that he is in the national capital. We are trying to locate and arrest him soon,” Vivekanand Singh Rathore, Superintendent of Police of West Garo Hills district, told The Hindu on Sunday.
He said many more people associated with Mr. Marak were likely to be arrested in the case registered at the Tura Women’s Police Station under relevant Sections of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act of 1956.
Mr. Marak, a former extremist leader who led the now-disbanded A’chik National Volunteer Force (B), had issued a statement after the raid accusing Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma of misusing the government machinery to settle personal scores with him. He also claimed the government went after him for exposing graft.
In a later statement he said, “I am not absconding but I am trying to save myself from being shot in an encounter.” He also said the Chief Minister entrusted the plan to execute him to police officers who had made several attempts on his life almost a decade ago
Mr. Rathore said the five children rescued from the farmhouse were found locked inside dingy cabin-like unhygienic rooms. All were in a state of shock and unable to speak properly.
“The were handed over to the district child protection officer for safe custody and further necessary action according to law,” he said.
The raid was linked to the disappearance of a minor girl on February 28. The girl was traced the following day and an investigation revealed she was sexually abused several times for more than a week. A case was accordingly registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Among the items the police seized from the farmhouse were a crossbow with telescope, 44 crossbow arrows, and a knife and a machete, both with wooden handles.
Leaders of the State BJP unit declined to comment on the case against Mr. Marak.