Guwahati, Sept 10: The one-man commission of inquiry into the death of the former HNLC leader Cherishterfield Thangkhiew has termed the Meghalaya police operation to arrest him at 3 am on August 13, 2021, in his residence as ‘culpable of thoughtless and excessive use of force’ which resulted in his death that was avoidable.
The judicial commission was constituted by Meghalaya government in the wake of state-wide protests against the killing of the former militant leader.
The judicial commission report has stated, "In my opinion, having entered what could potentially be a lion's den in darkness without proper planning and without taking adequate precaution, State Witness No. 4 had taken purely avoidable and unnecessary risk endangering his own life and that of deceased whom the team professed to have not intended to kill him in the first place."
"In my opinion, the forced entry into the house of the deceased in darkness and the subsequent killing of the deceased was a reckless exercise and tantamount to disproportionate use of force, which resulted in the death of the deceased," stated the inquiry report which was in the House on Friday.
According to the report, this apparently defeated the very purpose of launching the operation, namely, to capture him alive.
"The deceased was never apprehended alive; it was thus a futile exercise, " it added.
Stating that in his considered view, the post facto excuse that none but the deceased was hurt cannot be a valid justification for carrying out the operation hastily and in a reckless manner by the Tactical Team-I, Justice Vaiphei in his report said," Therefore, 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, late Cheristerfield Thangkhiew, which turned out to be avoidable."
The commission also made further recommendations which includes:
(a) Raiding a residential house occupied by civilians in urban areas at night in pursuit of criminals/to arrest them should not be carried out so that innocent occupant(s) are not harmed in any manner.
b) The police personnel deployed for night operation should be provided with night vision devices (NVDs), if they have not been so provided; these devices are available in the open market.
c) The use of tear gas grenades should be made mandatory for the security forces while raiding residential houses in urban areas.
d) In the event of raiding such residential houses, the primary consideration should be to avoid endangering the lives of innocent civilians or to prevent avoidable collateral damage.
e) Sensitization of the police force to respect the human rights of the citizens is the need of the hour; a course to that effect may be organized from time to time.
f) Henceforth, whenever any raid of this nature is being conducted in urban areas, an ambulance should be made a part of the team so that unnecessary loss of life can be avoided.