`Shillong jailbreak report tampered with`

Questioning the findings of Justice (retired) SP Rajkhowa on the infamous Shillong jailbreak, the Civil Society Women`s Organisation of Meghalaya said it would approach the high court.

Shillong: Questioning the findings of Justice (retired) SP Rajkhowa on the infamous Shillong jailbreak, the Civil Society Women`s Organisation (CSWO) of Meghalaya said on Thursday it would approach the high court, seeking a full CBI inquiry.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma tabled the 79-page probe report into the jailbreak of May 31, 2009. The report blamed jail officials, saying they connived with undertrials and abetted the jailbreak that morning.

The powerful non-government women`s organisation has alleged that the report was "tampered with".

"We are not surprised with the tampered report, especially when it took the government nine months to place it in the House. We will approach the high court seeking a full CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry, as the report is definitely a tampered one, and would shame any judge," CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing said.

She pointed to what she called "mistakes" in the report, pointing also to errors of grammar, and claimed that it was tampered with by officials, as the mistakes would shame a judge.

"They fail to realise that though Fullmoon (the ringleader of the runaways) is dead, the perpetrators are still alive, and can create 10 more Fullmoons. The very fact that the government kept the report on hold for nine months after its release, and skipped placing it in the first Assembly session, and then come out with a report naming the wrong undertrials who fled, shows that this report was definitely tampered with," Kharshiing said.

The one-man probe committee failed to uncover Meghalaya`s politician-criminal nexus that is widely believed to have led to the infamous Shillong jailbreak.

"There was no cogent evidence to give a definite findings that there was a nexus between politicians and criminals, leading to the jailbreak," Rajkhowa said.

Seven people, including two undertrials, escaped from the Shillong jail on May 31, 2009. Most of them were caught again. Fullmoon Dhar, the ringleader, was gunned down by police in the Jaintia Hills.

Eyebrows were raised as the 79-page report mentioned an unnamed "Congress Lok Sabha candidate" who was in touch with Dhar before he escaped from prison.

Two undertrials -- Synsharlang Thongni and Khrawborlang Marbaniang -- who appeared before the commission, however, did not mention the name of Vincent Pala, the Congress leader who contested and won from the Shillong parliamentary constituency.

"Dhar told him that the candidate used his manpower and force, and that the candidate would help him if he won the elections," the report said, citing Thongni, who reportedly mentioned this to the commission.

Marbaniang also mentioned that Dhar "used to contact his girlfriend and one Congress candidate", the report said.

Revealing the "glaring slackness" of jail officials, Justice Rajkhowa suggested complete overhauling of jail staff.

"It is proved from evidence brought on record that there was glaring slackness on the part of officials, including the superintendent of District Jail, Shillong. It surpasses our comprehension as to how arms from outside could reach the UTPs (undertrial prisoners), not to speak of inflow of money," Rajkhowa said.

He said: "It was nothing but sheer negligence and connivance and collusion on the part of the jail officials. Otherwise, it would have been next to impossible for the UTPs, headed by Fullmoon Dhar, to escape."

Rajkhowa recommended an overhaul of the entire staff, including the director general of prisons, with strict instructions that the provisions of the jail manual be followed in letter and spirit, without any lapse.

The report, however absolved officials of wrongdoing in Dhar`s killing.

It said that during the cross-examination of Mukesh Singh, who at the time was superintendent of police of Jaintia Hills, the police officer said he shot Dhar in self-defence. The undertrial had pointed a weapon at him on being asked to surrender, Singh had said.

Rajkhowa said firing by the policeman was justified, as there was a danger to his life.

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