Barely a fortnight after cricket and IPL got Shashi Tharoor, social and political organizations in Meghalaya want Vincent H Pala removed from the UPA ministry.
Pala, Union minister of state for water resources, is accused of having facilitated a jailbreak of seven under trial prisoners (UTPs) in Meghalaya capital Shillong on May 31 last year. The Meghalaya police had dramatically killed jailbreak mastermind Fullmoon Dhar while rearresting six of the UTPs 24 hours after their escape.
Dhar was a contract killer and was facing trial for several crimes against women including rape.
According to organizations such as Steering Committee Against Murder of Democracy (Scamod) and Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Pala’s continuation as Union minister would come in the way of cracking the jailbreak case.
“It is getting increasingly apparent why the (Congress-led) Meghalaya government is trying to bury the case that could establish nexus between criminals, politicians and top police officers,” Scamod member Agnes Kharshiing told HT from Shillong.
Witnesses to the Shillong jailbreak case had revealed involvement of several politicians including Pala and some jail staff. Two of the rearrested UTPs – Synsharlang Thongni and Khrawborlang Marbaniang – had told the probe panel Pala was in constant touch with Pala.
Pala hit back at those baying for his blood, saying, “History will tell that the two UTPs were tutored.”
The demand to drop Pala from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ministry arose after Justice D Biswas quit the jailbreak probe panel before a crucial hearing on April 24. Biswas was expected to pass orders on exhumation of Dhar’s body and getting access to some 100 SIM cards used prior to and after the jailbreak.
The Guwahati-based Biswas, though, cited a better offer from the Assam government – that of Upa Lokayukta – as reason for quitting the jailbreak probe panel. He had been given 120 days since 23 July 2009 to submit his report.
Many in Meghalaya are not convinced. “This is just too coincidental to believe. There has to be some transparency for the case to reach its conclusion,” said KSU general secretary Hamletson Dohling.
“We have submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil to advise the PM to drop Pala until he is cleared of the allegations,” said Meghalaya BJP president HS Syiemlieh.