Nongstoin, Sept 28: The two incidents of gruesome murders in the West Khasi Hills district headquarters have put the spotlight on the district that has witnessed a rise in crime in the last few years and made local residents apprehensive about the law and order.
From murder, rape, POCSO crimes to kidnapping, the spiralling crime rate has become a cause for concern for the law enforcement authorities.
According to the data in the Meghalaya police website, the district witnessed 114 cognizable IPC crimes in 2020, a rise from 87 in 2018. In 2019, the number was higher at 179. The 2021 data from January to March shows 25 instances of cognizable crime.
The two incidents of murders — one on September 20 and the other, a twin murder case, on August 23 this year — have been shocking for the locals.
In the September 20 incident, a 26-year-old woman was allegedly killed by her 25-year-old husband who later committed suicide. The only witness to the spectre in the room on the second floor of a rented house at Furbar in Maiaban, a remote locality in Nongstoin, was the couple’s six-month-old daughter.
Rosemary Lyngkhoi’s innards spilled out after she was stabbed several times in the stomach. Bose Kharbani was found hanging in the same room. He used an iron wire. The incident happened between 9pm and 10pm.
(Also read Infant found alive in house with dead couple)
The incessant cry of the baby, sitting beside the mother’s body in a pool of blood, alerted other tenants who tried to entre the room but failed. Some tried to peep through the cracks in the door and “were shocked”.
The tenants left for the night deciding to inform the village dorbar in the morning. The village officials reported to the police.
The baby was left alone for the night. The neighbours said the door was locked from inside and later they found out that nails were used to further bolt the door.
Rosemary’s past & present
Rosemary’s baby Cynthia now stays with her mother, Albina Lyngkhoi, at Themiew Nongstoin, a slum area in Nongstoin Market. She married Kharbani about four years ago. She is the youngest of the 12 siblings.
Kharbani hailed from Nongdom village in Umyiap, about 15 km from Nongstoin.
Rosemary had a child, Donald, from a former lover in school when she got married. Later, she gave birth to two more children, two-and-the-half-year-old Sebastian and baby Cynthia.
Donald and Sebastian were with Rosemary’s mother on the night of the murder.
According to Rosemary’s family, the couple were not happy together and would often fight. There was domestic violence and Rosemary would often have bruises. This prompted the families of the couple to meet and convince Rosemary and her husband to stop the violence. But little changed.
The woman’s family then asked the two to leave the house. Kharbani left his wife and the children three months ago, Rosemary’s family told the reporter. On September 20, she went to Nongstoin Market to meet Kharbani, who had “promised her to buy clothes for the children”.
Later, the family came to know about the murder.
The Nongstoin police assisted by the Shillong special squad of CID, had taken the baby to the district Civil Hospital for check-up. Among other things, the police found the blood-stained knife, which looked newly bought, on the floor.
Twin murders & a young accused
Phlisis Syiem (79) and her 25-year-old domestic help, Maitlynti Marshillong, were found dead in the former’s residence in the morning of August 24. Banphrangkupar Nongbri, who was known to the victims, allegedly murdered the duo for money.
Nongbri is the eldest son of an anganwadi worker, Siantisuk Nongbri, of Nongstoin village under greater Nongstoin Township. His father passed away years ago. He has one brother and four sisters, all younger than him.
The siblings spent most of the days in their grandparents’ house nearby. After speaking to the family and visitng their houses, the reporter found that the siblings grew up in a healthy middle-class family environment.
“Their grandfather would chide them for being disobedient, he would teach them to respect parents and elders, to be hard working in studies, to fear god, to be regular in church services and prayers, to be courteous to all people and every day to be home before sunset,” said a family member.
Nongbri did not show any sign of violence or misbehaviour before the murders took place. It was only recently that his behaviour was unlikely.
The family members, who went to the victim’s house to clean the murder site, said they were shocked when they heard that police on August 25 arrested Nongbri.
Police found Rs 64,000, a dagger and an iron rod in the possession of Nongbri, who was studying in a college in Shillong.
The case remains baffling. Many questions remained unanswered. Why did he need so much money? Who were he making friends with? Did the family know all his friends in the city? Why did he want money from his relative knowing well that the family would come to know about this?
The investigation is on and hopefully police will find all the answers.
But the immediate concern is what is prompting such crimes in the district? Nongstoin township is expanding and youths are migrating to the city in hordes in search of job or for higher education. The demand for land, house, food, jobs, education is rising by the day in the district. The aspirations of people are high but there is barely any mean to achieve those living in West Khasi Hills. This is an important reason for the delinquencies and social evils.
The Nongstoin town committee, the village dorbars, the Syiem of Nongstoin and his dorbar, public representatives, the church administrations of various denominations and the Government of Meghalaya should rise to the occasion to meet the needs of the changing scenario not only of growing needs of Nongstoin Township but also of the growing needs of other townships of Meghalaya and the people living there.
(Photos by author)