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Unedited affidavit of former DGP on Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew

Shillong, Sept 22: Here is the unedited affidavit of former DGP R Chandranathan on Cherishstarfield case.

BEFORE THE HON’BLE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY 

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HEADED BY 

HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE (RETD) T. VAIPHEI

IN THE MATTER OF:  

Inquiry Commission constituted under Section 3 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952

IN THE MATTER OF:

Statement of facts pursuant to notice dated 10.09.2021 in accordance with Rule 5(2)(a) and Rule 5(3) of the Commission of Inquiry (Central) Rules, 1972.

STATEMENT BY WAY OF AFFIDAVIT

I, R. Chandranathan, IPS, Director General of Police, Meghalaya Police do hereby solemnly affirm and state as under:

1. I say that I am the Director General of Police, and I am acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case, and I am competent and authorized to file the instant statement in the form of an affidavit.

2. I say that my statement is based on the information and official records, and I am acquainted with the same.

3. I say that the notice dated 10.09.2021 issued to me discloses following issues:

1. For inquiry into the facts and circumstances leading to the police action on 13th August 2021 resulting in the death of (L) Shri C. Thangkhiew, former General Secretary of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (hereinafter referred to as “HNLC” for short);

2. For give fact finding report as to culpability or otherwise of the police action resulting in the death of (L) Shri C. Thangkhiew, former General Secretary of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and;

3. Any other circumstances, which in the opinion of the Commission, are relevant.

4. I say at the outset that the police action on 13.08.2021 was undertaken for the arrest of (L) C. Thangkhiew in connection with the investigation concerning the Khliehriat IED explosion dated 14.07.2021 being Khliehriat P.S. Case No. 48(07)2021 U/s 120B/121A/307 IPC r/w Section 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and Section 3(a)(b) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001 and his involvement in other cases. I further say that steps for arresting (L) C. Thangkhiew was necessitated and deemed expedient in view of the overwhelmingly incontrovertible evidence gathered in the course of investigation establishing the connection of (L) C. Thangkhiew as a key person in carrying out the said IED explosion on 14.07.2021 at Police Reserve, Khliehriat and further evidence unearthed establishing the role of (L) C. Thangkhiew as the mastermind and the key financer behind identically executed IED explosions and extortion demands made by the banned militant organization Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (‘HNLC’) in last one and half year. I have detailed the above investigation, evidence and role of (L) C. Thangkhiew on the basis of the record of the cases in the foregoing paragraphs.

5. I say that wherever I have detailed the specifics of the investigation(s) against (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew and evidence unearthed therein, I have done so on the basis of the record of these investigations and on the basis of briefing and information furnished by the concerned officers. I say that I have detailed these aspects in my affidavit to bring out the comprehensive facts on behalf of the Meghalaya Police in the instant matter. I say that by way of separate statements of officers who were concerned with such investigation(s) and the minute details of these investigations shall be brought on record of the Hon’ble Commission. Having regard to the sensitive nature of information and in order to maintain secrecy with regard to ongoing investigation, the same shall be furnished in due course to this Hon’ble Commission in sealed cover for perusal of the records by the Hon’ble Commission only.

Similarly, so far as the details of the Police action dated 13.08.2021 are concerned, I have detailed the same on the basis of the record and information provided to me. The officers who were part of the police action are, by way of separate statements, detailing the minute aspects of the action and these statements may be read as part and parcel of the statement on behalf of the Meghalaya Police.

6. I say that the facts and circumstances leading to the police action on 13th August 2021 are stated as under:

A. Background of (L) C. Thangkhiew:

I. Known links to banned militant organization & criminal record 

1. I say that (L) C. Thangkhiew was a militant leader and a known member and former General Secretary of a banned armed militant organization Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (‘HNLC’).

2. I say that the HNLC has been declared an unlawful association by a notification under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 which declaration has been confirmed by the Tribunal constituted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and remains in force as on date.

3. I say that under (L) C. Thangkhiew, the HNLC was inter-alia involved in proliferation of militancy in the State of Meghalaya, criminal intimidation, extortion, murder, and several other heinous crimes.

4. I say that as per records maintained by the Meghalaya Police, (L) C. Thangkhiew along with his associates (cadres of HNLC), was engaged in serious criminal offences including extortion, kidnapping for ransom, looting of banks, murder and illegal use of arms, ammunition and explosives resulting in loss of lives of several persons.

5. As per the record of the Meghalaya Police, a total of 82 criminal cases were registered against (L) C. Thangkhiew. Of the 82 cases, 15 cases are registered for offences under Arms Act, 1959, 10 cases are registered for the offence of Robbery, 19 cases are registered for the offence of Murder, 03 cases are registered for the offence of Kidnapping and Abduction and demand of ransom, 08 cases are registered for the offence of extortion, 05 cases are registered under the Explosive Substances Act, 2001, 06 cases are registered under the Unlawful Activities Act and 01 case was registered for escape from lawful custody.

6. I say that the active role of (L) C. Thangkhiew in the above stated cases reveals a track record of violence against uniformed personnel of the police forces and against the general public, use of firearms and explosives against police patrols. (L) C. Thangkhiew’s actions led to loss of life of several serving police personnel, civilians, and government functionaries and the same is a matter of record.

7. I say that amongst other crimes, the HNLC and its cadres under (L) C. Thangkhiew were actively involved in large scale extortion by service of ‘demand notes’ to various people demanding huge sums of money failing which they would be executed. By way of illustration in Pynursla PS Case No. 27(12) 2009 U/s 447/326/307/302/506/34 IPC HNLC cadres under the instructions of (L) C. Thangkhiew went to the residence of one Shri Raja Khongsit at PomshutiaDawki Road and shot him dead and critically injured his wife Smti. MilphiyaMarsar for non-payment of demand money of INR 10,00,000/- (Rupees Ten Lakh Only/).

8. I say that another significant set of offences committed by (L) C. Thangkhiew and the cadres of HNLC at the instance of (L) C. Thangkhiew were involving the illegal use of Explosives and in particular IED explosives to cause loss of lives and public property. By way of illustration in Lumdegri PS Case No. 45(07) 2000 U/s 434/435/436/120B IPC r/w HNLC cadres, acting on the instructions of (L) C. Thangkhiew blasted the newly constructed RCC Bridge at Lower Mawprem using 2 IEDs.

9. The above facts assume significance in the light of subsequent incontrovertible evidence that came to light after concerted investigation by an SIT of the Meghalaya Police linking (L) C. Thangkhiew to major IED blasts and to various extortion demands in the year 2020-2021 which have been more particularly detailed in the subsequent paragraphs of the instant statement.

II. ‘Surrender/retirement’ on 18.10.2018 

10. I say that with consistent efforts of the Law Enforcement agencies (the police), Government authorities and the public, the influence of HNLC waned over a period of time. But effort of HNLC and its cadres have always been to revive and indulge in terrorism, anti-national, seditious and criminal activities.

11. That in the above backdrop, it appears that having been left with no other option and under constant pressure from the Police and Central Government forces, (L) C. Thangkhiew projected that he would act as bridge/mediator between the Government and the HNLC and announced ‘surrender/retirement’ on 18.10.2018.

12. I say that pertinently, (L) C. Thangkhiew did not surrender his weapon nor were the cases pending against him and HNLC withdrawn by the Government. However, having regard to the larger objective of bringing peace in the region, the Government deemed it appropriate to accept his surrender/retirement offer.

13. It is submitted that it appears from the turn of events discovered subsequently (as detailed hereinafter), he was actively involved in terrorist activities including financing the same through a massive extortion network.

NOTE:I say that the above facts have been stated by me on the basis of the record maintained by the Special Branch of Meghalaya Police and have been collated from the record for the purpose of placing these before the Hon’ble Commission.

III. Post surrender Events

a. Reiteration of status as ‘banned/terrorist’ organization

14. I say that even after his purported ‘surrender/retirement’, the HNLC continued with its criminal and terrorist activities. The Central Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs, by a Notification under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 dated 16.11.2019 No. S.O 4132(E) re-affirmed the HNLC to be a ‘banned/terrorist’ organization, with the following observations:

“And whereas Central Government is of the opinion that the HNLC has, –

i) openly declared objective for secession of areas in the State of Meghalaya, largely inhabited by Khasi and Jaintia tribals from India;

ii) continued intimidation and bullying of the civilian population for extortion of funds for their organization;

iii) maintained links with other insurgent groups of the North-eastern region for carrying out acts of extortion and intimidation;

iv) maintained camps in Bangladesh for the purpose of sanctuary and training of their cadres;

And whereas, the Central Government is also of the opinion that the unlawful and violent activities which are attributed to HNLC include-

a) four incidents of violence involving killing of one civilian, during the period between 1st January 2015 to 31st July 2019;

b) arrest of sixteen of its cadres during the said period;

c) recovery of four weapons during the said period;

d) surrender of fourteen of its cadres during the said period;

e) four persons have been kidnapped during the above said period; …”

15. I say that the above notification of the Central Government has been endorsed by the State Government on affidavit before the Tribunal constituted under Section 4 of the UAPA and the Hon’ble Tribunal has been pleased to confirm the status of HNLC as ‘terrorist/banned’ organization. The affidavit details the terrorist and criminal activities attributable to HNLC between 2015-2020 noting therein the efforts of the HNLC to ‘revive itself’

b. Series of IED Blasts – 2020 to 2021

16. I say that as per the record, the investigations by various teams of the Meghalaya Police have unearthed credible information and evidence of (L) C. Thangkhiew being the perpetrator and the key financier behind identically executed IED explosions by the banned militant organization Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council in the period between 2020-2021. These IED explosions and details thereof are:

i. Sookilo market IED Explosion on 26.11.2020 in Sookilo (subject matter of Khliehriat PS Case No. 146(11) 20 u/s 3 (a)/4/5 of the Explosive Substances Act, 2001): On 26.11.2020 information was received from Headman of Sookilo Village that around 3:14am an unknown person had caused explosion at the Sookilo market area. Some shops were completely damaged due to the explosion and accordingly an FIR was registered. 02 persons arrested in connection with the said case were i) Emanuel Suchen @Chuwa @E and ii) Mani Phawa. By a press release issued by the General Secretary, HNLC, the HNLC claimed responsibility for the said blast.

ii. Star Cement factory IED explosion on 12.12.2020 in Lumshnong village (subject matter of Lumshnong PS Case No. 130(12) 2020 u/s 324/307 IPC r/w Section 3-5 of Explosive Substances Act) – On 12.12.2020 information was received from Star Cement Lumshnong village to the effect that around 8:37 PM, certain unknown persons have caused explosion at the workers barrack inside the campus, immediately they rushed to the spot of the explosion site in Krishna Colony Lane No. 3, Room No. 22 and Room No. 24. The explosive substances were placed at the back side of the said rooms and upon explosion caused serious injury to one worker. Immediately police rushed to the spot and an FIR was registered. Notably 04 persons were arrested in connection with the said case of which 02 persons are important for the present case being i) Emanuel Suchen @Chuwa @E and ii) Mani Phawa. The case has since been transferred to, and is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency, (‘NIA’). Again, by a press release issued by the General Secretary, HNLC, the HNLC claimed responsibility for the said blast.

iii. M/s Meghalaya Coke Factory failed IED explosion on 17.01.2021 in Bther (subject matter of Khliehriat PS Case No. 7(1) 2020 u/s 4(a) Explosive Substances Act, 2001)- On 17.01.2021 report was received regarding attempted IED explosion at the M/s Meghalaya Coke Factory; however, the explosion was not successful. 02 accused persons were apprehended and arrested in connection with the said case. Yet again by a press release issued by the General Secretary, HNLC, the HNLC claimed responsibility for the said blast.

17. Khliehriat Bomb Blast dated 14.07.2021 (subject matter of Khliehriat P.S. Case No. 48(07)2021 U/s 120B/121A/307 IPC r/w Section 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and Section 3(a)(b) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001): On 14.07.2021, a written F.I.R. was received from ABSI L. Brahma of Police Reserve Khliehriat to the effect that on the intervening night of 13th and 14th July 2021, at around 1:40 AM, an IED explosion took place in one of the residential quarters at Police Reserve, Khliehriat resulting in bodily injury of two police personnel and substantial damage to police quarters. It is apparent that the intention behind the explosion was to cause loss of life of police personnel and damage to government property. Accordingly, a Cognizable case vide Khliehriat P.S. Case No. 48(07)2021 U/s 120B/121A/307 IPC r/w Section 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Section 3(a)(b) of Explosive Substance Act was registered and investigated into. It is noteworthy that even in the said case amongst the 12 accused persons so far apprehended the names of i) Emanuel Suchen @Chuwa @E and ii) Mani Phawa have again emerged. While Mani Pahwa is in custody, efforts are still on to trace and arrest Emanuel Suchen @Chuwa @E. It is also noteworthy that of the 12 arrested persons, 02 persons namely DameshwaSyrti&Dame Ymbom in their statements also admitted to their involvement in 3 other IED explosions and that they had acted on the instructions of Sanbor Pala. A press release was also issued by the HNLC claiming responsibility for the attack.

NOTE:I say that the above details regarding the investigation in Khliehriat P.S. Case No. 48(07)2021 are detailed by me on the basis of the record of the investigation in the said case carried out by the concerned Investigating officer and the SIT constituted for the purposes of investigating the said case. The officer concerned with the said investigation, and having personal knowledge of these details, shall, by way of separate statement to the Hon’ble Commission in sealed cover, detail the manner of investigation, the evidence collected, and the material unearthed in the investigation and the conclusions drawn therefrom.

18. Laitumkhrah IED Explosion dated 10.08.2021 (subject matter ofLaitumkhrah PS Case No. 114(08)2021 U/s 120B/121/121A/427/326 IPC r/w Section 3(a) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001 r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967): The final event of note is the IED blast on 10.08.2021 in Laitumkhrah at around 1:30 PM which resulted in injury to two persons and damaged public property. In this connection a case being Laitumkhrah PS Case No. 114(08)2021 U/s 120B/121/121A/427/326 IPC r/w Section 3(a) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001 r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act was registered and is being investigated. The HNLC by its press release has also assumed responsibility for the said explosion. A Special Investigation Team (‘SIT’) was also constituted vide notice dated 11.08.2021 in connection with the Laitumkhrah PS Case No. 114(08)2021 U/s 120B/121/121A/427/326 IPC r/w Section 3(a) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001 r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.

IV. Evidence collected in the course of investigation in the above FIRs- Link of (L) C. Thangkhiew

19. I say from the record that for the purposes of investigation into the Khliehriat Bomb Blast dated 14.07.2021, it was deemed necessary and expedient to constitute a Special Investigation Team (‘SIT’) for expeditious and thorough investigation into the case. Accordingly, by a notification dated 14.07.2021, it was done.

20. I say that acting on source information the investigating team identified certain suspects and stepped-up vigil and started electronic as well as physical surveillance.

21. I say on the basis of the records of the investigation conducted by the SIT and the Investigating Officer in the said case that the following common threads emerged in the above-referred 04 IED explosions:

i. The HNLC assumed responsibility of each of the above IED explosions;

ii. The ‘mastermind’/ ‘architect’ of these IED explosions was one person by the name of ‘Sanbor Pala’. It emerged that Sanbor Pala used to offer money to the accused persons for successfully making IEDs and exploding them at his instructions;

iii. It was also revealed that ‘Sanbor Pala’ was communicating with the accused persons from a Bangladesh number being +8801850234869;

iv. It was also revealed that in at-least three out of the four IED explosions, two accused persons namely, Mani Phawa & Emmanuel Suchen were same and acting on instructions of said Sanbor Pala.

NOTE: Details in the form of case diary and disclosure statements shall be submitted in sealed cover with request to treat the same as request of consideration in-camera accordance with Proviso to Rule 5(1) of the Commission of Inquiry Rules, 1972 since the investigation is pending)

NOTE 2: I say that the minute details of the investigations and the findings thereof may be brought on record by way of separate statements by the concerned officers having personal knowledge of these details with the leave of the Hon’ble Commission.

22. Based on the record I say that the SIT in the Khliehriat case commenced investigation as to the identity of Sanbor Pala as disclosed by the accused arrested after Khliehriat blasts.

23. I say that on the basis of disclosures made by the arrested accused, one of the suspects namely one StopmeRyngkhlem came up. The team commenced surveillance of the said suspect and started tracking the said person. I further say on the basis of the record that several recoveries including recovery of phones utilized for receiving instructions from HNLC operators, and a vehicle in which the accused party transported the IED were also seized.

24. I say that it was noted by the Investigating team that there was a possibility of there being another IED made by the accused persons which had not been recovered as yet. This became a cause of concern and an immediate priority for the investigation.

25. I say as per the record of investigation, one of the first, and biggest breakthroughs came to the investigation team on 19th of July 2021. The investigation team based on inputs received and disclosures made by the arrested accused had been surveilling one Stopme Ryngkhlem and during the said surveillance it was learnt that one of the accused persons namely Meshanki Pakhem was instructed to meet an unknown person on 19.07.2021 to receive either an IED or money. Accordingly, close tabs were kept on the said Meshanki Pakhem.

26. I say that on 19.07.2021 Meshanki Pakhemdid indeed proceed to one ‘Mahari Bakery’ at Mahari, Motphran to collect either some IED or money as some code language was being used. There he received a package from one person and upon his return journey, he was apprehended and arrested at Mawryngkneng and later handed over to Khliehriat PS.

27. From Meshanki Pakhem, INR 60,000 was recovered. To follow-up on the lead and identify the person who had paid the money, the SIT seized CCTV footage from the Mahari Bakery. Upon examination of the CCTV footage, it was noticed that a person having identical physical profile to (L) C. Thangkhiew handed over a packet (which was later on found to contain money) to Pakhen. The handing over of the money by (L) C. Thangkhiew to the Meshanki Pakhen was caught on CCTV footage.

28. In order to corroborate the presence of (L) C. Thangkhiew, the Call Detail Record (‘CDR’) of (L) C. Thangkhiew was also requisitioned and at the date and time when the money was received by Pakhen, (L) C. Thangkhiew was found to be at the very same location. In order to further firm up the lead, and since the person in the CCTV footage was wearing a mask, by way of abundant caution, the Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) was also requisitioned which cemented the finding that it was indeed (L) C. Thangkhiew who had paid the money to Pakhen.

29. Therefore, in this manner, the suspicion of the investigating agency that (L) C. Thangkhiew was involved in the activities leading to the IED explosion was cemented.

NOTE: (Details in the form of CCTV footage, CDR and IPDR shall be submitted in sealed cover with request to treat the same as request of in-camera consideration in accordance with Proviso to Rule 5(1) of the Commission of Inquiry Rules, 1972 since the investigation is pending)

NOTE 2: I say that the above details of investigation and conclusions drawn therefrom shall be brought on record by way of separate statements of the officers having personal knowledge of these details in sealed cover, with leave of the Hon’ble Commission

30. I say that at that time though involvement of (L) C. Thangkhiew was established by way of clinching evidence. But involvement of the same Sanbor Pala in extortion cases and also in IED explosions was also being reported in multiple investigations. Therefore, it was considered appropriate to continue intensive surveillance of (L) C. Thangkhiew in the hope that (L) C. Thangkhiew would lead the team to ‘Sanbor Pala.’ At that time, it was felt that (L) C. Thangkhiew was facilitating the said ‘Sanbor Pala’, and therefore, arrest of Sanbor Pala was crucial to prevent further commission of offences.

V. Evidence in relation to Extortion FIRs- Establishing identity of Sanbor Pala as alias of (L) C. Thangkhiew

31. I say on the basis of the records, that parallel to the above investigations in IED explosions, during the period between July – August 2021, there was also a spurt of extortion demand notes being served to MDCs and prominent businessmen in the State.

32. I say that it is only during the course of the investigation of these Extortion FIR’s that evidence was unearthed in early August 2021 that (L) C. Thangkhiew was suspecting to be operating under an alias ‘Sanbor Pala’ &was extorting money to fund militant activities of the HNLC in form of IED explosions etc. these cases are:

a. PS EKH No. 193(07) 2021 U/s 384/506 IPC r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act:MLA ofNongpoh, Shri Mayralborn Syiemlieh had lodged an FIR on 29.07.2021 at office of SP East Khasi Hills wherein he stated that he received an extortion note from WhatsApp number +8801850234869 with the threat from HNLC.

b. Sadar P.S. Case No. 190(07)2021 U/s 384/506 IPC, r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act: Similar FIR on complaint of Shri Khongsit Add. Commissioner of Taxes, Meghalaya (albeit from a different number claiming to be of HNLC) that he received a WhatsApp demand note and calls from HNLC.

33. Several other such cases emerged where the similar extortion notes were received between 26.07.2021 & 30.07.2021 from the same Sanbor Pala using the same number +8801850234869 which was informed to police in confidence without registering formal complaints. However, in some of these cases FIRs have been registered subsequently on the following dates:

1 Rynjah PS Case No. 99 (08) 2021 u/s 384/511/506/34 IPC R/w Section 10 & 13 UAPA dated 23.08.2021 – Complaint by Shri Charles Pyngrope, MLA Nongthymmai Constituency regarding extortion note received on 27.07.2021 from +8801850234869.

2 Mawlai PS Case No. 48(08) 2021 U/s 384 IPC R/w 10/13 UAPA dated 24.08.2021- Complaint by Shri TeiborlangPathaw regarding extortion note received on 26.07.2021 from +8801850234869.

3 Rynjah PS Case No. 104(09)2021 U/s 384/511/506/34 IPC R/w Section 10 & 13 UAPA dated 06.09.2021 – Complaint by Shri Pyniaid Sing Syiem, Chairman KHADC regarding extortion note received on 26.07.2021 from +8801850234869.

34. I say that the breakthrough in the extortion cases came on a complaint of MDC (name withheld for maintaining secrecy which may be disclosed in-camera) who approached the police confidentially on 02.08.2021 with a similar allegation as detailed above regarding demand notes received by him on 15.07.2021 from HNLC. The Investigating team was given an audio recording by the said person of the extortionist, and upon analysing the voice of the extortionist and comparing the same against the control sample derived from publicly available audio recordings and video addresses of (L) C. Thangkhiew, it gave rise to suspicion of the investigating officer of the Khliehriat IED explosion case that the person was one and the same as (L) C. Thangkhiew. The audio sample has since been seized and sent for forensic examination on 02.08.2021.

35. It is at this point that it became clear that:

a. +8801850234869 was being used by one ‘Sanbor Pala’ to instruct accused persons in IED explosions;

b. +8801850234869 was being used by the same ‘Sanbor Pala’ to make extortion demands on behalf of HNLC;

c. Audio of ‘Sanbor Pala’ recorded matched that of (L) C. Thangkhiew;

d. (L) C. Thangkhiew had been found by clinching evidence to have delivered money for IED explosions to a known accused in Khliehriat IED explosions dated 14.07.2021.

36. I say therefore, by the first week of August 2021 clinching evidence had been obtained that (L) C. Thangkhiew was getting emboldened and trying to create terror in the above manner in Meghalaya. The objective was to finance the terrorist activities of HNLC.

NOTE: The details of the above-referred investigation, evidence unearthed and conclusions drawn therefrom shall be brought on record by way of separate statement by competent officers investigating these cases and having personal knowledge thereof, by way of separate statement (in sealed cover) with the leave of the Hon’ble Commission.

VI. Prevailing Security threats and Intelligence of possible IED blasts

37. I say that after the above facts had been established, the Police started carrying out surveillance of (L) C. Thangkhiew with a view to identify opportune moments for his arrest along with necessary incriminating evidence which would assist in bringing down the underground cadres of HNLC as well. That since this was a highly sensitive matter, all aspects had to be duly evaluated. It was noted by the investigating team that (L) C. Thangkhiew was frequenting another house suspected to be that of an ex-HNLC cadre lady, therefore, it was critical that whenever and wherever the arrest of (L) C. Thangkhiew was carried out, all relevant factors would have to be ascertained, including locations frequented by him.

38. During this period an IED explosion was again carried out on 10.08.2021 in Laitumkhrah which further indicated serious threat of HNLC.

39. I say that after the 10.08.2021 IED explosion, specific and confirmed inputs were received on 11.08.2021 and 12.08.2021 giving warning of the possibility of another IED explosion in Punjabi Lane, Secretariat, Bara Bazar etc. in Shillong.

40. As detailed in preceding paragraphs, the Investigation in the Khliehriat IED explosion case had also revealed the possibility of a second IED remaining with HNLC cadres which further fortified the possibility of such an IED blast.

41. The HNLC was also scheduled to have its raising day celebration on 14.08.2021 and had issued calls for boycott of Independence Day celebrations. HNLC by its press release on 11.08.2021 had also threatened media houses, judiciary, and government machinery to not intervene in its call for bandh and boycott for the State government.

42. I had also personally received inputs from Central agencies regarding terror threats in the leadup to 15th August 2021.

43. I say that in view of the special inputs received above, and in view of the fact that SIT Khliehriat had observed the possibility of another IED being there. Therefore, on 12.08.2021 a high-level meeting of all top officials of the Police Department and officers involved in the investigation and collection of evidence was held by me in Police Headquarters. The meeting was attended by ADG (L&O), ADG (SB), IGP (L&O), SP Traffic, SP (EKH) and Dy. SP EKH.

44. In the meeting the evidence collected so far were evaluated in a threadbare manner and it left no iota of doubt as to the active involvement of (L) C. Thangkhiew in illegal activities of HNLC and the possibility of another IED explosion between 13, 14 and 15th August 2021, which was also looming large. It was felt that prompt action is required to save possible loss of innocent human lives.

45. I say from the records that surveillance inputs had also picked up conversation between known HNLC members asking to avoid Police Bazar Area on 13th August 2021 and therefore in view of above evidence and imminent threat to life and property of the general public, the police was left with no option but to effect arrest in most secure and covert manner so as to avoid accused absconding and unnecessary hindrance in police action by the sympathizers of (L) C. Thangkhiew on intervening night of 12th/13th August only. Possibility of destruction of evidence was also considered before deciding to go for operation for his immediate arrest during the night hours itself.

46. It became apparent that it had become genuinely necessary to cause arrest of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew in the Khliehriat IED explosion case and that the arrest was necessary to prevent the further commission of offences and to investigate the crime.

47. I say that inputs from the Special Branch also suggested a strong possibility of another imminent IED explosion in Shillong between 12-15th August, 2021. Therefore, it was necessary to take action to prevent what would surely be large scale loss of life and destruction of public property in the event the IED explosion was not prevented.

48. I say that reasonable justifications therefore existed that such an arrest was necessary and justified and that the same had to be affected expeditiously without any opportunity to (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew to either abscond or destroy critical evidence necessary to establish his culpability in the Khliehriat IED explosion case and other offences committed by him.

49. I accordingly, with the inputs of my senior officers, decided that the arrest of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew should be executed forthwith on the intervening night of 12th/13th August 2021.

VII. Details of Police action dated 13.08.2021.

NOTE: The details of the police action itself have been derived by me completely from the record and from the information given to me by the concerned officers. These aspects may be detailed through statements of concerned officers at appropriate stage, if considered necessary, with the leave of this Hon’ble Commission.

50. I say that from the records and information provided to me by the police team involved in the action, it transpired that after the meeting on 12.08.2021 in my office, the decision to arrest (L) C. Thangkhiew was sought to be executed by a team of two S.P, One Dy. S.P, One Investigating officer with Special Operations Team (‘SOT’) of East Khasi Hills. The team also included an SOT of East Jaintia Hills, Lady MPS officer, accompanied by women constables of SF-10 and two other Deputy SPs.

51. I say that in order to carry out the arrest, I am informed that the officers organized briefings at SP Office, Shillong for strategizing the execution of the raid and also a briefing to the team for the said purpose. Roles and responsibilities were distributed and fixed between the team members. Clear instructions were given that (L) C. Thangkhiew was to be arrested and that the operation was to be carried out covertly to avoid any chance of him escaping or destroying the evidence.

52. I say that the officers also informed the teams of the possible threat carried by (L) C. Thangkhiew who had a known history of violent crimes and claiming to have caused those murders. I am also informed that as with any operation, safety of the team was of paramount importance and therefore, possibility of explosives, weapons and other cadres of HNLC was also made known to the team. Therefore, all operational possibilities were factored in by the officers concerned, and the operation was meticulously organized.

53. I say that I am informed that when the team reached the residence of (L) C. Thangkhiew for his arrest, the team made its presence known by asking (L) C. Thangkhiew to surrender before the police party. I am informed that when no response was received, the Tactical team entered the boundary of the house and approached the main door on the first floor. I am informed that upon reaching there, the team banged on the door informing of its presence. However, (L) C. Thangkhiew did not surrender nor respond to the calls of the team. I am informed that the team therefore forced entry into the house and the first member of the tactical team entered the narrow corridor inside the house immediately after the main door, where the first member of the tactical team saw that a person camecharging at him in the cover of darkness (who was later identified as (L) C. Thangkhiew.) I am informed that the first member of the tactical team shouted for the person to stop (shouting Sangeh! Sangeh! in Khasi), however, the person continued to charge aggressively andresultantly the first member of the tactical team, in exercise of right to self-defence and with a view to injure the person shot one round from his service weapon towards the lower part of the body of the person. In the process, the person was injured.

54. I am informed that when other members of the team entered, the lights were found and turned on and it was found that the person was (L) C. Thangkhiew and a knife was also discovered. I am informed that an immediate call was placed to the ambulance with a view to ensure immediate medical assistance, however, despite these efforts, (L) C. Thangkhiew could not be saved.

55. I am informed that from the house of (L) C. Thangkhiew the team seized about 10 mobile phones, a 9mm pistol including 9-10 mobiles, and certain Hard disks were also seized. The knife with which the attempt to attack the police party was also recovered. A pistol was also recovered from the house of (L) C. Thangkhiew.

NOTE: I say that the minute details of the operation, team constitution etc. shall be furnished in sealed cover for information of the Hon’ble Commission only as and when directed or required. This is considered necessary to protect the identities of the team of officers, who may be targeted by HNLC.

56. I say that the Post-mortem conducted corroborates the version of the police party inasmuch as the entry wound suffered is on lower abdomen in downward direction with weapon being fired at extremely close quarter.

57. I say that the chain of events as noted above clearly shows that the firing of single shot by the 1st member of the tactical team (Head Constable) was purely out of self-defence and was warranted, having regard to the nature of the dreaded criminal who had not surrendered his weapon and his clear involvement in IED explosions.

58. I say that the tactical team consisted of well-trained officers and men but having regard to the closed spaces and prevailing circumstances where the accused did not respond to multiple calls and did not surrender despite some members of the house (including the wife of the accused as disclosed in her statement) having also heard the warning from the police team and banging of the door, barking of dogs and sound of police vehicles and movement of the police team. Yet, despite all this, the accused did not surrender compelling forced entry.

59. I say that the Police party conducted search in the premises and for seizures made, local headman was then called to be an independent witness where many vital evidence were found including clothes which were worn by (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew of the day at Mahari Bakery Motphran and digital evidence were also seized and apart from that one pistol and knife was seized. After seizure, the FSI & CSU teams were informed to come to the crime scene to take necessary action.

VIII. Concluding statement as to Terms of Reference No.1.

60. I say that in view of the above facts, I say that so far as the facts and circumstances leading to the police action on 13th August 2021 are concerned, as detailed above, overwhelming material collected by way of detailed investigation existed warranting the immediate and expeditious arrest of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew in connection with the Khliehriat IED explosion case. Intelligence inputs from Special Branch, Meghalaya Police and also from central agencies warned of another IED blast in Shillong after 10.08.2021. The above inputs and material evidence have been reduced in writing and form part of Case diary and also form part of record of the Police.

61. Therefore, I say that it is in these facts and circumstances that the police action on 13th August 2021 was carried out with a view to apprehend (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew. The decision was taken for his arrest only after detailed review of evidence and in view of the security inputs warning of another IED explosion in Shillong.

62. I say that the decision to carry out the raid covertly was fully justified inasmuch as the protests and events after the police action, including rioting and destruction of public property shows that it would have been impossible to cause arrest of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew during the day and with notice to him. I say that taking such a step would invariably prejudice the safety of the police party and compromise the investigation if he would have destroyed the evidence.

IX. Concluding statement as to Terms of Reference No.2.

63. I say from the record that the details of the police action dated 13.08.2021 also reveal following incontrovertible facts:

1 The tactical team tasked to apprehend and arrest (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew gave all necessary warning calling for his surrender and arrest and made their presence known by banging the door;

2 Only after no response came from the house did the tactical team entered into the house for arresting (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew and to prevent him from absconding and/or destroying evidence available with him;

3 Upon entry of the tactical team, the 1st member was suddenly attacked in the cover of darkness in the narrow corridor on the first floor of the house;

4 Even in such a situation, the 1st member of the tactical team shouted asking the attacker to stop, but since the aggressor did not stop, a single round was fired in self-defence targeting the lower part of the body, thereby injuring (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew;

5 Ambulance was called immediately;

6 Recoveries made from the house of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew include recovery of mobile phones, laptop, pistol, knife and clothes with match the CCTV footage of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew at Mahari Bakery which connects (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew with involvement in the IED explosion at Khliehriat.

64. I say therefore, that the above facts adequately establish the bonafide of the police action for his arrest on 13.08.2021. I further say that even the action itself shows that the events resulting in the death of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew in the course of the action was a result of the non-cooperation with the police party and due to his attempt to attack the member of the police party, thereby compelling the firing of a single shot in self-defence.

DEPONENT

VERIFICATION

I, the deponent above named, do hereby verify that the contents of the above affidavit are true to my knowledge based on information derived from records maintained in the Department and the rest are my humble statement before the Hon’ble Commission. No part of the affidavit is false and nothing material has been concealed therefrom

 

DEPONENT

LIST OF SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS

1. A copy of the Notification under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

2. A copy of summary of the cases registered against (L) C. Thangkhiew, General Secretary of HNLC along with a brief description of the offences.

3. A copy of the Notification issued by the Central Government, through the Ministry of Home Affairs under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 dated 16.11.2019 No. S.O 4132(E)

4. A true copy of the affidavit dated 23.04.2020 filed on behalf of the Government of Meghalaya through Political Department before the Hon’ble Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal

5. A true copy of the FIR in Khliehriat PS Case No. 146(11) 20 u/s 3 (a)/4/5 of the Explosive Substances Act, 2001

6. A true copy of relevant press report of General Secretary of HNLC, Saiñkupar Nongtraw claiming responsibility for the IED explosions at Sookilo Market

7. A true copy of the FIR in Lumshnong PS Case No. 130(12) 2020 u/s 324/307 IPC r/w Section 3-5 of Explosive Substances Act, 2001

8. A true copy of relevant press report of General Secretary of HNLC, Saiñkupar Nongtraw claiming responsibility for the IED explosions at Star Cement factory in Lumshnong village

9. A true copy of the FIR in Khliehriat PS Case No. 7(1) 2020 u/s 4(a) Explosive Substances Act, 2001

10. A true copy of relevant press report of General Secretary of HNLC, Saiñkupar Nongtraw claiming responsibility for the IED explosions at M/s Meghalaya Coke Factory, Bther

11. A true copy of FIR in Khliehriat P.S. Case No. 48(07)2021 U/s 120B/121A/307 IPC r/w Section 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and Section 3(a)(b) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001

12. A true copy of the press release by the General Secretary of HNLC, SaiñkuparNongtraw claiming responsibility for the Khliehriat IED explosions dated 14.07.2021

13. A true copy of the FIR in Laitumkhrah PS Case No. 114(08)2021 U/s 120B/121/121A/427/326 IPC r/w Section 3(a) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001 r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967

14. A true copy of the press release by the General Secretary of HNLC, SaiñkuparNongtraw claiming responsibility for the Laitumkhrah IED explosions dated 10.08.2021

15. A true copy of the notification dated 11.08.2021 notifying the constitution of the SIT in Laitumkhrah IED explosions dated 10.08.2021

16. A true copy of the notification dated 14.07.2021 notifying the constitution of the SIT in the Khliehriat IED explosions dated 14.07.2021

17. Disclosure statements of accused persons in Khliehriat P.S. Case No. 48(07)2021 U/s 120B/121A/307 IPC r/w Section 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967 and Section 3(a)(b) of Explosive Substance Act, 2001 [To beSubmitted in sealed cover with the leave of the Hon’ble Commission at appropriate stage]

18. Details in the form of CCTV footage, CDR and IPDR [To be submitted in sealed cover with the leave of the Hon’ble Commission at appropriate stage]

19. True copy of FIR in PS EKH No. 193(07) 2021 U/s 384/506 IPC r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967;

20. True copy of the FIR in Rynjah P.S. Case No. 99(08)2021 U/s 384/511/506/34 IPC, r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967;

21. True copy of the FIR in Rynjah P.S. Case No. 104(09)2021 U/s 384/511/506/34 IPC, r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967;

22. True copy of the FIR in Mawlai P.S. Case No. 48(08)2021 U/s 384 IPC, r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967;

23. True copy of the FIR in Sadar P.S. Case No. 190(07)2021 U/s 384/506 IPC, r/w Section. 10/13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967;

24. Copy of seizure memo of audio sample submitted by MDC (name withheld)

25. A copy of the input received from Special Branch Meghalaya Police dated 11.08.2021 with names/confidential information redacted.

26. A copy of the input received from the Director of Intelligence bureau, Government of India.

27. A copy of the press release dated 11.08.2021 calling for boycott of Independence Day and threat issued by HNLC to media houses and Hon’ble High Court.

28. A Copy of the Postmortem Report.

29. A Copy of the seizure list of material evidence seized from residence of (L) Cheristerfield Thangkhiew.

30. A copy of the relevant reports showing large scale violence, arson and rioting in Mawlai, Shillong on 15.08.2021.

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