It has been exactly nine months since a massive case of extortion was reported from Dainadubi, North Garo Hills, which prompted a magisterial inquiry, but there are grave fears that the investigation is a mere whitewash with the perpetrators likely to get away scot-free.
On December 30, 2019 around 225 coal laden trucks were stopped at a government checkpoint in Dainadubi and each was forced to pay up Rs 26,000, which amounted to well over Rs 50 lakh in total.
Allegedly, a former Meghalaya Civil Service officer led the extortion incident and took over the Directorate of Mineral Resources (DMR) checkpoint, with police and other government officials not daring to interfere in the crime. FIRs were filed at Dainadubi Police Outpost, with dozens of witnesses coming forward.
The crime sparked a hue and cry, which shook the administration and embarrassed the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, which has been embroiled in controversies over the illegal transportation of coal almost since its inception. Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma then announced an inquiry, but not a judicial inquiry, which had been pushed for in the interest of transparency.
Instead, the CM instituted a lowly magisterial inquiry even through a judicial probe was demanded by MDA allies, such as the Garo Hills youth wing of the United Democratic Party.
“This magisterial probe will not serve any purpose because on the night of the incident there were two magistrates on duty at the site but they were unable to prevent the widespread extortion,” UDP youth wing leader Anand Marak had said at the time.
The findings of the magisterial inquiry have been submitted but have yet to be shared publicly, not even with MLAs who had reportedly asked to see them.
A source has said that “as feared, the magisterial inquiry was only a whitewash.”
A letter with several questions pertaining to this case has been sent to a prominent activist seeking her intervention to get to the bottom of this crime, which the government has so far kept a consistent silence on, reminding those in power that the people have not forgotten.
Sources said that they will not allow such a scam to be covered up as moves are afoot to take it up to the next level of investigation.
Meanwhile, a request was sent to the Director General of Police for his comments.