Security was beefed up at Sadar Police Station on May 20 morning as leaders and members of the East Khasi Hills Local Taxi Welfare Association gathered outside the police station at Thana Road in a bid to meet the officer incharge and investigating officer to inquire about the arrest of five persons, involved in the assault of two local taxi drivers in Khyndailad on May 18.
Only the leaders of the association were allowed to enter the premises and meet the police officers.
It may be mentioned that five persons were arrested by Shillong Police with the help of Guwahati Police from Guwahati on May 19, a day after the two drivers were assaulted.
Expressing curiosity and doubts over the manner in which the arrest was made, the taxi drivers’ association decided to go to the police station and inquire into the matter.
The association felt that the blurred image of the five arrested persons, shared by the police on May 19, was questionable and stated that they do not look like miscreants.
After coming out of the police station and meeting with police officers, president of the association Wandonbok Jyrwa confirmed the arrest of the five individuals from Guwahati but said that as mandated by the law, common people are not allowed to identify the arrested individuals inside the police station.
He said, once the arrested persons are forwarded to the court, eyewitnesses will be called to identify the five.
“Yes, last night we had our doubts and we were suspicious of the police’s action because the arrested persons didn’t look like non-locals. But today, all doubts have been cleared and after they are produced in the court, only eyewitnesses will be allowed to be present to identify the miscreants,” Jyrwa.
When asked whether the five arrested persons have admitted to committing the crime, Jyrwa said that the police are investigating into the matter. “If they admit it or not, it depends on the court. But we were informed that they haven’t said a word… maybe because they are scared,” he added.
President of Hynniewtrep National Youth Movement (HNYM) Louis Dohtdong, who accompanied the taxi drivers, said that the police questioned the association’s lack of trust in the law. “They asked us if we trust them. We said we don’t. They showed us all the documents and signatures of the arrested individuals to prove that they are not fake. They asked us to trust them and, in the investigation,” Dohtdong said.
It was informed that a case under four different sections, including Section 307 (attempt to murder) was registered against the five persons.
Meanwhile, members of the association were not satisfied with the replies of their leaders and demanded that the police publicise the faces of the arrested persons.
To this, the leaders tried to calmed the agitated members and said, “We are not the law. We want to, yes, but we have to follow the law. There are eyewitnesses from our end who will speak and if you too have witnessed the crime, I urge you to present yourself as a witness in front of the court and you will have our backing.”
Meanwhile, the association are in constant touch with the family members of the assaulted drivers. “We also demand that compensation be paid to the injured persons but this does not mean that just because compensation was paid, you will go easy on the case,” Wandonbok Jyrwa said.
To a question on whether they will carry out an inspection for trading and labour license of non-local taxi drivers operating in the city, Jyrwa said that they had written to the District Council to monitor the issuance of licenses to non-locals and said that they will again meet with officials of the District Council on Monday to follow up on this case.