After giving up arms, Bernard Marak joined the BJP. The vice-president of the party’s Meghalaya unit, he has now been arrested for operating a brothel at his farmhouse in West Garo Hills.
Shillong: The police custody of BJP’s Meghalaya unit vice-president Bernard Marak , who was arrested from Uttar Pradesh on July 25 for allegedly running a brothel in the West Garo Hills district, was extended by six more days by a court in Tura on Friday.
The police said that additional charges have been levelled against Bernard Marak, who is also the leader of Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, after the police recovered more arms and explosives from a locked room at the BJP leader’s farmhouse, ‘Rimpu Bagan’.
Local BJP workers and leaders organized protests in Tura on Friday demanding a fair probe into Bernard Marak’s case, while the party workers in West Garo Hills launched a signature campaign a day before demanding the removal of the Superintendent of Police and Deputy Commissioner of the district.
In defence of Marak, a party leader claimed that the farmhouse has been operational since 2019, but the raid was carried out just six-seven months before the upcoming Assembly elections in Meghalaya.
“The move is intended only to malign Bernard Marak and damage his political career,” the BJP leader said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma ruled out any independent probe in Marak’s case.
“There is no question of any independent inquiry. The investigation is going on and facts are coming out. So I don’t think there is any reason for an independent probe,” Sangma told the media in Shillong.
After holding a protest in front of the party office here earlier this week, state BJP leaders met Governor Satya Pal Malik and demanded the removal of the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of the district for a free-and-fair probe.
State BJP president Ernest Mawrie had told the media that the Governor assured them that an independent inquiry would be commissioned.
However, the Governor subsequently clarified that he had not given any assurance to the BJP leaders in this regard.
The BJP leader Bernard Marak was booked under different sections of the POCSO Act and Immoral Trafficking Act after five children were rescued and 73 people were arrested on July 23 from his farmhouse.
The District Magistrate of West Garo Hills district had earlier ordered a magisterial probe to find out details about the police raid on July 23 in the farmhouse reportedly owned by Marak, alias Rimpu, a militant-turned-politician.
Meghalaya police raided Marak’s farmhouse, ‘Rimpu Bagan’. According to West Garo Hills Superintendent of Police (SP) Vivekanand Singh, police zeroed-in on the farmhouse following a complaint filed in February this year about the disappearance of a local child. Police detained a total of 68 men and women in addition to seizing 36 vehicles, over 210 litres of alcohol, and 500 packets of contraceptives from Bernard Marak’s farmhouse.
“Some were without clothes…We also found five children, one girl child and four boys. They were being kept in small rooms and we had to break open the doors,” Singh said.
West Garo Hills district police chief Vivekanand Singh had said that the police rescued five minors; four boys and one girl were found locked inside dingy unhygienic rooms at Rimpu Bagan, comprising 30 rooms.
The police also seized 36 vehicles, 47 mobile phones, liquor, 500 unused condoms and other materials. The Meghalaya BJP in a series of statements defended the party leader, saying that he has been ‘unjustly framed and maligned’.
With two MLAs, the BJP is a part of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance, led by Sangma’s National People’s Party.