Meghalaya: Local Bengali youths attacked brutally in suspected hate crime, police warn against breaching communal peace

Representative Image via East Mojo

Six non-tribal youths were injured grievously in Meghalaya on Friday after they were attacked by unidentified goons. The incident occurred after the boys, all between the age of 20 and 24, went to play basketball at Lawsohtun block VI in Shillong. They were attacked by a group of around 20 individuals armed with iron rods and sticks.

The injured Bengali youth have been identified as Arindam Deb, Subharshi Das Purkayastha, Saptarshi Das Purkayastha, Binak Deb, Bishal Ghosh, and Prittish Deb. The incident occurred at around noon on Friday. The police on reaching the spot after receiving information spotted two of the boys who had managed to escape the basketball court.

11 people have been arrested in connection with the case. A criminal case no. 71(07)20 under sections 326/307/506/34 of the IPC has been registered at the Laban Police Station. 3 suspects were nabbed by police on Friday and the rest 8 suspects were picked up yesterday, according to a statement issued by Meghalaya police.

GK. langrai, Assistant Inspector General of Police (A) said, “The police team on seeing the condition of both these youth immediately rushed them to Woodland Hospital for medical assistance and the other four victims were also taken to the same hospital for medical treatment.”

Further investigation into the matter has been initiated. The Police has also sought information from the local populace regarding the crime. They have assured individuals of complete secrecy in the event of passing the police any information. As per reports, it is suspected to be a hate crime against the youth who belong to the minority Bengali Hindu community in the state.

Patricia Mukhim, an eminent journalist from Meghalaya, said while addressing Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, “Conrad Sangma CM Meghalaya, what happened yesterday at Lawsohtun where some non-tribal youth playing Basketball were assaulted with lethal weapons and are now in hospital, is unacceptable in a state with a Government and a functional police force.”

She proceeded to add, “The attackers, allegedly tribal boys with masks on and should be immediately booked. This continued attack on non-tribals in Meghalaya whose ancestors have lived here for decades, some having come here since the British period is reprehensible to say the least. The fact that such attackers and trouble mongers since 1979 have never been arrested and if arrested never penalised according to law suggests that Meghalaya has been a failed state for a long time now.”

She stated, “Why should our non-tribal brethren continue to live in perpetual fear in their own state? Those born and brought up here have as much right to call Meghalaya their state as the indigenous tribal does.” Some of the injured suffered injuries to their limbs while others sustained head injuries. They have been discharged after receiving treatment at the Woodland Hospital.

Non-tribals in tribal dominant states in North-East such as Meghalaya suffer immense discrimination and are often the victims of hate crimes. The Meghalaya Police has issued stern warnings against breaching communal peace and promised that “stringent action as per relevant provisions of law will be taken against them”.

Chief Minister Sangma has also issued a statement regarding the same through social media. He said, “I strongly condemn the assault on 5 boys yesterday in Lawsohtun, Shillong. An assault on any citizen of the State irrespective of background or community will not be tolerated. Perpetrators of such heinous crimes will be charged by law. Action will be taken.”

OpIndia Staff: Staff reporter at OpIndia