BJP leader in Meghalaya accused of running a 'brothel' is absconding, says police

Police arrested 73 persons during the raid on charges of illegal and immoral activities
Last Updated 25 July 2022, 15:58 IST

Police in Meghalaya on Monday said Bernard N. Marak, the vice-president of BJP's Meghalaya unit, who was accused of running a 'brothel' in his farmhouse, was still absconding.

"Soon after the raid on his farmhouse on Saturday, we asked him to surrender in Shillong police station immediately and co-operate in the investigation. But he is not cooperating with us and has been absconding since then. We have launched a hunt for his arrest," a police officer in West Garo Hills district, told DH on Monday.

On Saturday, police in the district said in a statement that five minors, including a girl were rescued from inside dingy rooms of the farmhouse, Rimpu Bagan situated in the outskirts of Tura town during a raid. The children were rescued from unhygienic conditions, police claimed. They further claimed that a minor girl, who went missing in February this year was rescued later had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by some youths inside the farmhouse. Local residents of Tura also lodged verbal complaints with police about immoral activities taking place inside the farmhouse, the police statement said.

Marak refuted the allegations. BJP's Meghalaya unit on Sunday defended the accused saying that he became a victim of "political vendetta." "These children have been staying since the pandemic and Bernard Marak has been supporting them financially as well," BJP said on Sunday.

The saffron party pointed fingers at National People's Party (NPP) leading the coalition government in Meghalaya, in which BJP is a minor ally since 2018. BJP said Marak was targeted as he was gaining popularity as a politician in Garo Hills, particularly in Tura.

The BJP statement claimed that 30 rooms in the first floor of the farmhouse were used as homestays while the second floor was used as a hostel for underprivileged children from across Garo Hills.

Police also stated on Saturday that more than 25 cases were pending against Marak since 2000 and he was carrying out unlawful activities such as extortion and intimidation to traders in Tura. They alleged that Marak was involved in arms smuggling, prostitution, illegal sale of liquor, lottery, encroachment on other's properties and others.

Marak was the former chairman of the now disbanded militant group, Achik National Volunteers Council (B) and joined politics after signing an agreement with the government.

Police arrested 73 persons during the raid on charges of illegal and immoral activities.

The Opposition Congress on Monday demanded an independent inquiry into the entire incident.

The incident is likely to trigger tension between BJP and its ally NPP ahead of Assembly elections slated next year.

(Published 25 July 2022, 15:57 IST)

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