Guwahati, July 23: In an unwarranted raid that started at 6 pm yesterday and is still continuing at Rimpu Bagan, a suspected brothel in Tura town in Meghalaya, owned by Benard N Marak, a member of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) as well as a former militant leader, the West Garo Hills (WGH) district police apprehended 68 boys and girls for interrogation after finding them indulging in ‘immoral activities’ inside Rimpu Bagan premises.
A statement issued by the Superintendent of Police (SP), WGH district V S Rathore, IPS, and digitally signed by Vivekanand Singh, said that the search team of police have also apprehended the manager, caretaker and other three staff of Rimpu Bagan, the suspected place where a minor girl was sexually assaulted for a week earlier this year (Tura Women PS Case No. 24(02) 2022 u/s 366A/376 IPC r/w 5/6 POCSO Act.
Police also recovered 36 vehicles (27 LMVs, 8 scooty/motorcycles, one autorickshaw), 47 mobile phones, 168268 ml liquor, huge quantity of contraceptives (condoms), Rs 30,000/- in cash and other incriminating materials.
Five children – 4 boys and one girl – were too found by the police team inside dingy cabin-like unhygienic rooms. All the children were in a state of shock and were unable to speak properly. All of them were handed over to the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) for safe custody and further necessary action.
The WGH Police statement also said, “From the materials recovered at Rimpu Bagan as well as the design of the building etc., it appears that the place was being used by Benard N Marak and his accomplices as a ‘Brothel’ for the purpose of prostitution. Therefore, a case vide Tura Women Police Station (No. 105 (07) 2022 u/s 3/4/5/6/7 of Immoral Trafficking Act, 1956) has been registered and being investigated.
“The main accused Benard N Marak @ Rimpu was verbally instructed to cooperate with the investigation and surrender himself at Shillong Sadar Police Station immediately. However, he has not cooperated and is evading arrest. The search operation is continuing.”
Police record indicates Benard N Marak @ Rimpu is a known criminal with more than 25 criminal cases registered against him since early 2000s. He was the self-styled chairman of the now disbanded militant outfit, A’chik National Volunteer Council (B).
Meanwhile, in statement issued to the media, Benard N Marak who is also the Vice President of Meghalaya BJP, stated that the raid at his ‘private premises (not a brothel)’ was conducted by the WGH Police without any warrant and at the behest of Meghalaya Chief Minister and the National People’s Party (NPP) leader Conrad Sangma ‘on fabricated charges to malign his (Benard’s) public image’ as the CM and the NPP were fast losing ground in the state. It may be mentioned that NPP and the BJP are constituents of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA).