Meghalaya police has withdrawn the security of Amita Sangma, a team mate of social activist Agnes Kharshiing, who along with her was attacked in East Jaiñtia Hills in one of the most daring and outrageous attacks on anti-mining activist by the coal mafia.
It is learnt that the security detail provided to her was removed without any intimidation to her as to why it was being removed. She had not been consulted by the police as to whether she felt safe enough to have the security removed after experiencing a massive attack.
Amita’s name is forever joined to that of Kharshiing, the state’s leading activist and vocal anti-coal mining voice who she was with on that fateful day of November 8, 2018, when the coal mafia in a mob of around 40 people attacked them while taking photographs of local-laden trucks in Sohshrieh, East Jaiñtia Hills, the hub of illegal rat hole mining at that time.
Police officials spoken to were evasive about the reasons for the removal of the security detail. One of them said that the incident happened five years back so there was no more need for that and that “security is not a privilege”.
Another higher official said, that the District Police decide on the threat perception and that probably they felt that there is no more threat to her life.
But they could not explain how they had reached that conclusion that “the threat perception” has disappeared for Sangma, while it remains for Kharshiing, since Sangma is the prime witness of the brutal attack on the anti-coal activist.
How the “threat-perception’ could have come down to zero level when the case is yet to even go to trail and the culprits, about 40 of them (some of them named in the FIR) are still roaming around free, a question that requires answers. Not only that, one of them was an ex-office bearer of the National People’s Party (NPP), the ruling party in the state. In January 2022 he was sentenced to life in a case related to a murder of the year 2008. Though it was not their case, the duo had heaved a sigh of relief but he was freed on bail soon after due to some legal technicalities.
Amita, about 50 years of age, a widow and mother of 10, is the prime witness of that mob attack and can identify several of them.
To revisit that fateful day, just as the attack began, quick-wittedly she had managed to dial a contact just before she was hit by logs along with Kharshiing. They were left unconscious and abandoned in the bushes. She gained consciousness and crawled to the roadside for help and managed to quickly show the search parties where Kharshiing was unconscious, thus getting her to life-saving medical aid swiftly. They were provided security while they were under treatment in NEIGHRIMS under orders of the Meghalaya High Court which took their security and safety as a serious matter considering the scale of the attack which was lethal with the intention to kill. The security was carried on after their release from the hospital.
She along with Kharshiing had sought a CBI inquiry into the attack on them but this was not thought necessary by the state government.
Even as late as October 2021 the two of them, Sangma and Kharshiing had filed an FIR in Shillong after receiving threats from unknown persons over the phone demanding that they free coal trucks that were confiscated.
Rat hole mining is still illegal and still going on. There are dozens of cases in the Meghalaya High Court including some PILs calling for a halt to the illegal mining and illegal transport. All these show that the very forces that attacked them are still very much active, even as Sangma is still an active team mate of Kharshiing in the activism to call a halt to the illegal business, said a source.
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