Villagers in the area around Sandagre, West Garo Hills, have hit out at the local unit of the A’chik Holistic Awakening Movement (AHAM) after the members of the pressure group allegedly assaulted the father of a supposed rape victim and registered an FIR against the alleged perpetrator even though villagers say he is innocent.
According to the villagers, an FIR was field at Tura Women’s Police Station by Joningbath M Marak, a member of AHAM’s Bolory unit that accused one Maidul Islam of raping a minor girl.
However, locals stated that there was no rape – Islam and the girl, who they say is an adult, was in love but AHAM had the man arrested for a non-existent crime.
“We came to know that Islam and the [woman] were in a relationship and as he was married from nearby Dabelagre we were unhappy with the development and called for a meeting. During the meeting, both confessed to the relationship and promised to not continue it further. They even signed an agreement and the matter was compromised on. There was no question of any sexual assault in the case,” said one of the Nokmas present at the meeting.
However, even after the compromise and subsequent agreement, the matter took a drastic turn once AHAM came to know about it.
The members of the organization allegedly barged into the house of the woman and tried to force her father to sign a complaint of sexual assault against Islam. When he refused to do so, they assaulted him in the presence of his family.
They then forced the woman and her father to travel to Tura and forcefully filed a complaint of sexual assault with police. In order to strengthen their case, they procured a school leaving certificate from the headmaster of the Sandagre School showing her as a minor. The FIR was filed on August 29.
Later, however, the headmaster said that the woman was not a student of the school but that he was made to issue the certificate under duress. A video confession of the teacher was later procured by the villagers.
The father who was allegedly assaulted by the AHAM members filed an FIR against the group, though no action has been taken by police. This FIR was only filed on October 2 at the Tura Police Station.
“When we as Maharis have sorted out the matter, which in any case did not involve any illegality, why did they force the family to go to the police? As Maharis, we have the right to resolve such disputes among ourselves and this is a time-tested aspect of our lives. They (AHAM) have been terrorizing us and we demand that they be removed. We understand NGOs are necessary but the people they have chosen to represent them are wrong,” said another Nokma.
The case, according to the villagers, has stressed them out no end and the AHAM members have made their lives a living hell.
“They are interfering in everything and even demanding money from local traders for goods. In fact, once when one of the local traders refused to pay, they seized his vehicle. Is this the work they are supposed to do as an organization?” they asked.
The villagers have now put forward a demand that the AHAM members involved in filing the case have to be arrested.
“How is action against them still not being taken when everyone is aware that they filed a false case, threatened the victim and her father and provided false evidence? They assaulted the father of the victim but are still freely roaming around?” they added.
Islam continues to languish in jail despite the FIR of the father, the statement of the woman, who underwent a bone ossification test that shows she is above 18.
Meanwhile, West Garo Hills Superintendent of Police Dr MGR Kumar said after a review of the FIRs action will be taken against those who filed a misleading complaint.
“We will look at all aspects and work on the information,” he added.