Outfit denies role in attack

Shillong, Feb. 4: The breakaway faction of the A'chik National Volunteers' Council (ANVC-B) today denied any hand in the Williamnagar district jail attack and said its name has been dragged in by some "vested interests".

"We condemn the Williamnagar incident and we deny having a hand in the attack. The ANVC (B) is being dragged in because of some vested interests," the outfit said in a statement today.

The group also said, "Williamnagar is Sohan D. Shira's stronghold and our influence in that area is not much. Accusing ANVC (B) seems more like a cover-up statement to target our cadres and to derail the peaceful initiative."

On Saturday night, assistant jailor Neil Warjri of Williamnagar district jail, died on the spot when alleged ANVC (B) cadres stormed the jail premises.

Warder Sharai Sing Thabah, who was also shot at, succumbed to his injuries yesterday in Tura, West Garo Hills.

The East Garo Hills district administration had first pinned the blame on the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) for the attack.

However, a day later, the administration said it was the ANVC (B) cadres who were involved in killing Warjri and Thabah.

Police had also identified ANVC-B militant commander Singbirth N. Marak alias Norok as the person who had led the attack.

Norok was recently given bail after he was arrested in connection with the attack on Meghalaya PCC working president Deborah C. Marak last year.

"Norok and other cadres have been bailed out legally and their involvement in the attack is not possible, as they are out to meet the commander-in-chief and have not assumed command yet," the ANVC (B) said.

The outfit also said the arrested cadres were "tortured and threatened" while they were in custody, but now posed "no threat to anyone". "We are cooperating with the government and followed the legal procedures to bail out our cadres who still have to attend court. So the accusation has to be carefully examined, otherwise the cadres may feel threatened and a worse situation may arise. There is an apprehension among ANVC (B) cadres that some officers made personal remarks when they were in custody and plan to apprehend them again on slightest pretext," the group said.

The outfit also said the breakaway group was trying to bridge an understanding with other communities of the state. "They are dragging our name without evidence. This will jeopardise the entire process".

The group, while assuring cooperation, also welcomed Meghalaya's director-general of police Kulbir Krishan's statement to have an in-depth inquiry on the incident before coming to any conclusion.

The Khasi Students' Union (KSU) today said it would organise a black flag march on Friday in protest against the killing of Warjri and Thabah.

The march will start at 10am from the KSU office at Jaiaw and proceed to the state secretariat. Other pressure groups and NGOs will also participate in the march.

KSU general secretary Auguster Jyrwa said the purpose of the march was to ask the state government to provide adequate security to government employees posted in Garo hills.

"We have been receiving several calls from Khasi people working in government offices in Garo hills expressing fear for their lives and who would like to return to their respective places in Khasi-Jaintia Hills," Jyrwa said.

He appealed to government employees to participate in the march and said the union would also try and meet chief secretary W.M.S. Pariat to demand security for employees working in the Garo hills.

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