SHILLONG, July 28 (PTI): Meghalaya Police found explosive materials and traditional arms from the farmhouse of BJP vice-president Bernard N Marak who was arrested on the charge of running a sex racket from there, an official said on Thursday.
New charges under Explosive Substances Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act were added to the original FIR lodged against Marak who was brought to Tura in West Garo Hills district during the day from Hapur in Uttar Pradesh where he was arrested on Tuesday.
Marak, a former militant leader, had gone missing following a police raid – which started on July 22 night and ran till the next morning – at the farmhouse in Tura. The police have said they arrested 73 people from there and rescued six minors — four boys and two girls.
“A total of 35 gelatine sticks and 100 detonators, four crossbows and 15 arrows were seized from the farmhouse,” West Garo Hills district police chief Vivekanand Singh told PTI.
The explosives and arms were recovered when a team of the district Child Protection Unit and the police went there to collect the clothes and books left by the rescued children. It led to the registration of a case under Explosive Substances Act against the BJP leader.
A case under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) was also registered against him after medical examinations conducted on one of the six rescued minors revealed that the child was sexually assaulted, Singh said.
Marak, who is also a member of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, was earlier facing charges under various sections of the IPC and the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956. He has more than 25 criminal cases registered against him since the early 2000s across the North-eastern state.
“Marak has been brought to Tura by a special police team. He underwent a thorough medical examination by a team of doctors,” the police officer said.
The West Garo Hills district administration has instituted a magisterial inquiry into the episode.
The police in Hapur and the Special Operations Group (SOG) took Marak into custody near a toll plaza at the Ghaziabad border on July 26, hours after a look-out notice was issued against him by the authorities in Meghalaya.
A look-out notice is issued to make sure that a wanted person is not able to leave the country. A court in Tura had on Monday issued a non-bailable warrant against the BJP leader.
The BJP is a part of the state’s ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), led by chief minister Conrad K Sangma of the National People’s Party (NPP).
Marak, a militant-turned-politician, has claimed he was innocent and alleged he is the target of political vendetta by the chief minister and fears for his life. The state BJP also backed his claim.
There were speculations that in the assembly elections due next year, the saffron party would field Marak against Sangma.
The Meghalaya chief minister told reporters on Tuesday that he did not issue any order to put the BJP vice-president behind the bars.
Marak was the chairman of the now-disbanded armed rebel group ANVC(B), a breakaway faction of the Achik National Volunteer Council, before he joined the BJP and won the tribal council elections from Tura.