During the search of the resort, the police found at least six minor girls “locked up inside dingy cabin-like rooms under unhygienic conditions”. They suspected a three-story building to be the spot where the minor girls were sexually assaulted.
NEW DELHI – The Meghalaya Police have reportedly launched a manhunt to nab Bernard N Marak, the Meghalaya state vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party in connection with a case of alleged immoral trafficking of minor girls, an offence that invokes Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act among other laws warranting punitive action.
The matter came to light when the Meghalaya state police, acting on a missing complaint of a minor girl, conducted a raid at a resort owned by Marak on Friday. During the search of the resort, they found at least six minor girls “locked up inside dingy cabin-like rooms under unhygienic conditions”.
The children were found in a state of shock unable to speak properly. From the materials recovered at Rimpu Bagan, the resort, as well as the design of the building it appears that the place was being used by Bernard N Marak alias Rimpu and his accomplices as a “brothel” for the purpose of prostitution,” the police said.
The raid on the resort was prompted by a police complaint lodged by a woman claiming that her daughter was missing. When the police recovered the minor girl from the resort, she was produced before a court where she alleged that she was sexually assaulted by the BJP leader multiple times over a week.
The expose is said to have caused a major embarrassment for the BJP which is yet to make a statement on the development. Marak has, however, dismissed the charges against him as politically motivated. Denying that he was on the run, he said he was being targeted by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma by “asking the police department to link yesterday’s (Friday’s) raid with some POCSO case in February”.
“None of those detained was involved in any indecent activities,” the BJP leader maintained, accusing the police of trespass and harassment of the minor students, being sponsored by him to study, alleging that they were involved in sexual activities.
“Matured individual cannot be called a prostitute for partying and no homestay can be termed a brothel. Chief Minister has made things very personal by allowing police to frame human trafficking/prostitution over his own voters,” he added.
Marak, a renegade given to frequently switching sides in politics, was formerly a militant leader of the disbanded Achik Nationalist Voluntary Council (B). He is now an elected member of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council. He often criticises the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government in the state even though his own party, the BJP, is sharing power with it as a coalition partner.
The Meghalaya Police suspected a three-story building to be the spot where the minor girls were sexually assaulted. They released a press statement in the case. The statement gave details about what the team found at the site. “The team also noticed many young boys and girls openly drinking on the premises, inside the rooms as well as inside vehicles. Some of them were sitting inside the vehicle without clothes or with very few clothes on their bodies.”
The search team detained all the boys and girls numbering around 68 for interrogation. Some managed to run away taking advantage of the darkness. The team also apprehended the manager, caretaker, and other three staff members of the resort.
Later, the entire premise was searched in the presence of independent witnesses in which 36 vehicles, 47 mobile phones, 168268 ml liquor, huge quantities of contraceptives (condoms), and other incriminating materials” were recovered from the spot, the Superintendent of Police of West Garo Hills Vivekanand Singh said in the press release.