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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

State witnesses stay from Assam probe panel on Mukroh

Commission winds up hearing for Meghalaya.


Not a single witness from the state turned up for the hearing conducted by the one-man inquiry commission constituted by the Assam government to probe into the November 22, 2022 police firing at Mukroh village in West Jaintia Hills district, in Shillong on August 7.

Expressing her dismay, Chairperson of the commission and retired judge of the Gauhati High Court Justice Rumi Kumari Phukan said, “To my utter surprise despite wide circulation of notification as well as public notice through newspaper publication on August 4, nobody turned up before this commission.”

“We waited till afternoon and ultimately we had to wind up the hearing for the Meghalaya side. I decided to complete the hearing and we have to give the judgment on the basis of whatever evidence that has been collected by the commission,” she added.

The hearing for examining the witnesses from Meghalaya was held at Assam House here.

Justice Phukan said the commission had duly informed through the district administration and deputy commissioner of West Jaintia Hills and secretary to the government of Meghalaya that any interested persons, witnesses and those who have personal knowledge of the matter could appear before the commission on Monday and give evidence.

This came after the commission had examined 53 to 55 witnesses and collected documentary evidence from the Assam.

“We have recorded so many witnesses, those who attended their duty on the day of occurrence and have collected documentary evidence as well. Our part is already over. So we waited for a response from the Meghalaya side,” the chairperson said while adding, “We had directed the Meghalaya government to produce relevant documents because all that evidence and documents are not available before the commission.”

Further, Justice Phukan said that the Meghalaya government-constituted inquiry commission had in fact recorded evidence of the party in Assam, which include police personnel, forest personnel and many persons.

“They (party from Assam) have responded properly to the notice given by the commission (from Meghalaya). But in the case of our commission, we have no particular address of those witnesses except some surnames etc. So we have directed the district administration to procure the attendances of those witnesses if feasible before this commission but to our utter dismay nobody appeared, ” she rued.

She also added that “they (Meghalaya government) could have at least intimated something about the documents but nothing happened.”

According to her, she wanted to hear the people from Meghalaya and allow them to produce documents and evidence before concluding the inquiry. However, there will not be another hearing because it will again be a futile exercise.

Asked when the commission will submit its report to the Assam government, Justice Phukan said, “…it was going to be wind up but because the investigating officer has not produced the case diary, we have given the date next week perhaps August 22 for evidence of IO. He has to produce the case diary about the investigation conducted whatever evidence he has collected then on the basis of the evidence of IO and other evidence available on record we will deliver our judgment.”

She further informed that a major part of the hearing of the commission was held at the Bungalow of the Irrigation department in West Karbi Anglong district and the remaining part was shifted to the commission’s office in Guwahati.

Soon after the constitution of the commission, Justice Phukan had also visited the place of occurrence. She, however, said the commission did not interact with the people during her visit adding “talking here and there with the people will not serve any purpose unless we hear properly.”

At least six people were killed in firing by Assam police at Mukroh village on November 22, 2022, of which five were from Meghalaya and one was an Assam forest guard.

The Assam government had on November 23, 2022 formed a one-man inquiry commission headed by Phukan.

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