Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said the killing of NCP candidate Jonathone N Marak portrays utter chaos and lawlessness in the state of Meghalaya.
Addressing an election rally at Songsak in East Garo Hills, Singh grieved the death of Jonathone N Sangma – NCP’s candidate for the Williamnagar seat – and said his gruesome murder was the outcome of the Congress government’s failure on the law and order front.
“The attack on NCP candidate is a testimony that Mukul Sangma has failed to provide security to the citizens of Meghalaya”, Singh said.
Benjamin Marak, an eyewitness to the incident, who was in a separate car behind said, the miscreants could have been lying in wait for his convoy. “It was an ambush, a pre-planned strike,” he said, recounting how the bomb ripped into the SUV carrying the NCP candidate as it reached a place called Samanda.
East Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Ramkumar Singh said a policeman named Samin Hassan (30) was killed along with Jonatone Sangma. Two others killed on the spot were identified as Cribinath D Shira (35) and Baichung Ch Momin (40), a former member of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA).
Three others in the ill-fated vehicle, battling death, were sent to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital.
The injured has been identified as Silman N Sangma (45), Nur Abdul Miah (57) PSO and Behensing Marak.
“No militant organisation or anyone else has claimed responsibility for the attack. Apart from finding the miscreants, we are investigating some posters of threat (to voters supporting Sangma) at Samanda, Damagre, Nengkhra and other areas,” Ramkumar said.
He said that they had gone to Sawilgre village under Samanda block in East Garo Hills to allay the fear that the electorates should not bow down to the diktats served by the militants. However, while returning an IED explosion blown off the vehicle.
Meghalaya state president of NCP Saleng Sangma has urged the government to institute an enquiry into the incident. “It will be too early to say who will replace the candidate”, he said.
Sitting legislator and Congress candidate Deborah Marak termed the incident as very unfortunate and expressed her condolence to the bereaved family. She condemned the attack and sought for a CBI probe into the incident.
Meghalaya’s Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said Election Commission has been sounded for deployment of more forces in the western half of Meghalaya comprising the Garo Hills and encompassing 24 of the State’s 60 assembly seats.
Polling in Williamnagar, where the slain NCP candidate Jonathone N Marak was pitted against eight others including the State’s social welfare minister Deborah C Marak of Congress has been deferred. The next date of polling will be announced in due course, Kharkongor said.
“We had a meeting with top police officials and agreed more companies of central paramilitary forces are required in the Garo Hills for fair and fear-free elections,” he informed.
Senior Meghalaya Police officials said the needle of suspicion was on members of the banned Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA).
A peace procession was taken out in the town and the market remained shut for the day as a mark of protest against the attack. The market will also remain close as a mark of morning on Tuesday.