Yearender 2017: Scandals, sexual misconduct, shamed Meghalaya in 2017

Scandals, including that of sexual misconduct, rocked Meghalaya in 2017 which saw a legislator sent to jail on charges of raping a minor and involvement in a sex racket and a governor resign for allegedly entertaining women at his office and compromising the Raj Bhavan's dignity.

Yearender 2017: Scandals, sexual misconduct, shamed Meghalaya in 2017
Photo: Rajya Sabha TV

Shillong: Scandals, including that of sexual misconduct, rocked Meghalaya in 2017 which saw a legislator sent to jail on charges of raping a minor and involvement in a sex racket and a governor resign for allegedly entertaining women at his office and compromising the Raj Bhavan's dignity.

The beginning of the year saw Raj Bhavan staff openly revolting against the then Governor V Shanmuganathan charging him with compromising the dignity of the gubernatorial office.

Nearly 100 staff members at the Raj Bhavan alleged the governor gave "many women direct access to his bedroom". He was later asked to resign.

The year also saw the swearing in of two other governors - Bawanrilal Purohit who replaced Shanmuganathan and later Ganga Prasad who took over as the 17th Governor and the fifth in the last five years - a record of sorts.

Independent legislator Julius K Dorphang was jailed for allegedly raping a minor and being involved in a sex racket.

Dorphang and 18 others were arrested by police and jailed in the first quarter of the year. Charged under POCSO, they are still behind bars.

The year also saw a rebellion in the ruling Congress from its senior members including former deputy chief minister Rowell Lyngdoh and his cabinet colleagues Prestone Tynsong and Sniawbhalang Dhar.

They openly revolted against Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and declared their intention not to seek re-elections on Congress tickets. They are set to join the National People's Party.

The high court judgement holding invalid the appointment of parliamentary secretaries through a government's 2005 legislation was another blow for the government.

The Meghalaya Parliamentary Secretaries (Appointment, Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2005 was held invalid in November for want of legislative competence of the State Legislature and was therefore, struck down leaving the decision to disqualify them at the hands of the Governor.

Activist M Sumer, on whose PIL the court acted, also demanded their disqualification as an MLA although they had resigned en-mass on the day the court announced its judgement.

In the same month, the high court delivered another blow to the Congress when it annulled the recruitment of teachers in 2009 in five of 15 centres - Shillong, Jowai, Amlarem, Tura and Dadenggre - where the CBI had conducted an inquiry and unearthed anomalies in the selection process and ordered the agency to register an FIR filed in this regard.

Although the CBI had established that 268 out of 365 candidates were appointed illegally by the education department officials meddling with the original marks and score sheets, the state government went on to defend its stand and Chief Minister Sangma directed the education department to file an appeal petition before the Supreme Court against the judgement.

In another instance, the high court had to step in to prevent the state government from rampant cutting of trees in the state after a big tree fell on top of cars killing three of the occupants of a taxi. The government, otherwise, intended to cut over 550 trees in the city.

The year also saw the BJP trying to hog the limelight in the state under Shibun Lyngdoh although its leadership had a tough time explaining the Centre's ban on slaughter of cows and dealing with the issue of alleged atrocities against Christians and minorities across the country.

The Congress also shot off letters of protests against the central government's decision to observe Christmas as good governance day and Digidhan melas on Good Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the poll-bound state earlier this month. He inaugurated the 271-km-long east west corridor connecting western Tura in the Garo Hills and Nongstoin in West Khasi Hills with the state capital apart from sounding the poll bugle. The state goes to polls early next year.

On the law and order front, a mob set on fire five police vehicles and torched part of a police station in North Garo Hills district after three traders were shot dead as a result of a mistaken identity by the police who were looking for armed criminals. The matter is under a judicial probe headed by retired Justice B D Agarwal. 
 

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