The police custody of BJP’s Meghalaya unit vice-president Bernard N. Marak, who was arrested from Uttar Pradesh on July 25 for allegedly running a brothel in the West Garo Hills district, was extended by six more days by a court in Tura on Friday.
The police said that additional charges have been levelled against Marak, who is also an elected leader of Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, after the police recovered more arms and explosives from a locked room at the BJP leader’s farmhouse, ‘Rimpu Bagan’.
On the other hand, local BJP workers and leaders organised protests in Tura on Friday demanding a fair probe in Marak’s case, while the party workers in West Garo Hills launched a signature campaign a day before demanding the removal of the Superintendent of Police and Deputy Commissioner of the district.
In defence of Marak, a party leader claimed that the farmhouse has been operational since 2019, but the raid was carried out just six-seven months prior to the upcoming Assembly elections in Meghalaya.
“The move is intended only to malign Marak and to damage his political career,” the BJP leader said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma ruled out any independent probe in Marak’s case.
“There is no question of any independent inquiry. Investigation is going on and facts are coming out. So I don’t think there is any reason for an independent probe,” Sangma told the media in Shillong.
After holding a protest in front of the party office here earlier this week, state BJP leaders had met Governor Satya Pal Malik and demanded the removal of Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police of the district for a free and fair probe.
State BJP president Ernest Mawrie had told the media that the Governor assured them that an independent inquiry would be commissioned.
However, the Governor subsequently clarified that he had not given any assurance to the BJP leaders in this regard.
The BJP leader was booked under different sections of POCSO Act and Immoral Trafficking Act after five children were rescued and 73 people were arrested on July 23 from his farmhouse.
The District Magistrate of West Garo Hills district had earlier ordered a magisterial probe to find out details about the police raid on July 23 in the farmhouse reportedly owned by Marak, alias Rimpu, a militant-turned-politician.
West Garo Hills district police chief Vivekanand Singh had said that the police rescued five minors — four boys and one girl — who were found locked inside dingy unhygienic rooms at Rimpu Bagan, comprising 30 rooms.
The police also seized 36 vehicles, 47 mobile phones, liquor, 500 unused condoms and other materials.
The Meghalaya BJP in a series of statements defended the party leader, saying that he has been ‘unjustly framed and maligned’.
With two MLAs, the BJP is a part of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance, led by Sangma’s National People’s Party.