Shillong(Meghalaya),Sept 9 : An inquiry into an encounter killing of a former militant leader in Meghalaya last year has revealed the death was caused by a botched operation, a report tabled in the assembly on Friday, September 9 said.
Former high court Chief Justice T. Vaiphei, who led the inquiry commission, said in the report that the police operation failed in its objective but stopped short of making any recommendation against the police personnel involved in the killing of the former militant leader, Cheristerfield Thangkhiew.
In my considered view, the operation was well-planned, but executed poorly, recklessly, hastily and without proper application of mind, he said in the report.
“My finding is that the Tactical Team-I in carrying out the operation to arrest the deceased at his residence on 13-8-2021 at about 3 am was culpable of thoughtless and excessive use of force, which resulted in the death of the deceased, which turned out to be avoidable,” the report said.
Once known to be a dreaded militant leader, 54-year-old Thangkhiew was the founding general secretary of the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). He had surrendered in 2018.
The Meghalaya police conducted the raid at his house in Mawlai area in August last year, after an investigation into IED attacks in the state revealed his “direct involvement”.
The police maintained that Thangkhiew was killed in retaliatory firing.
Terming the exercise as a botched operation, the chairman of the Meghalaya Human Rights Commission said it failed in its objective of apprehending the deceased alive.
This could have given the police valuable information about the subversive activities of the outlawed militant outfit, he said.
Vaiphei noted that the police did not use night vision devices and the absence of ambulances during the operation.
He recommended the force use night vision devices, ambulances, and tear gas while raiding houses in urban areas at night to avoid harming innocent occupants.
The chairman of the Meghalaya Human Right Commission has also recommended sensitisation of the police with regard to human rights.
As the report was tabled in the House, several of Thangkhiew’s supporters, who wanted to march to the assembly, were stopped midway by the police.
A huge deployment of force was seen in and around the assembly building.
The one-man commission had submitted the report of its findings on the death of Cheristerfield Thangkhiew in May this year.