The Crime Branch of Assam Police on January 6, 2017 late night arrested the Independent Meghalaya Legislator, Julius Dorphang from the Gorchuk area of Guwahati city, who was absconding after his name emerged as an accused in the rape case of a 14-year old girl. The minor girl was rescued from a Guest House owned by incumbent Home Minister H Donkupar Roy Lyngdoh’s son last month where she escaped from the clutches of the pimps.
52 year old Dorphang who is the sitting representative from Mawhati constituency is a former rebel leader of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and is now supporting the Dr. Mukul Sangma led government. He was in hiding after Meghalaya police registered a case against him at Laitumkhrah Police Station in Shillong and booked him under section 366 (A) of the IPC and under section 3 (a)/4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and under section 5 of Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate Court issued an arrest warrant for Dorphang on January 4, 2017, he was booked under section 366 (A) of the IPC and registered with section 3 (a)/4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) and under section 5 of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA).
Following a tip off, the Assam Police crime branch arrested Dorphang, from the Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) near Gorchuk area. According to a top Assam police official, the rape accused Meghalaya legislator was caught when he tried to flee to areas beyond Assam and Meghalaya.
The Assam police had been conducting search operations to nab the absconding MLA in Guwahati since January 5 evening following intelligence inputs that he being sheltered by a former insurgent leader.
However, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), General Secretary Anup Chetia refuted allegations that members of his organisation had sheltered Dorphang, terming it as totally false. Chetia added they cannot support a person involved in a crime against a minor girl who is like his daughter. “The law should take action against such notorious persons,” Chetia had said.
It may be recalled that Dorphang developed a friendship with these leaders when they shared camps in Bangladesh, from where he operated between 1993 and 2007. He was then the Chairman of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), a Meghalaya-based militant outfit. He was given general amnesty after he surrendered in 2007. This helped wipe clean his crime slate that included extortion, abduction, killing and waging war against the country.
The day he took his oath as a Member of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, he informed that he did not at all regret what he had done in the afore mentioned years, as it was the need of the hour then. He was also unwilling to say sorry to all the harm he had caused to the society even as he was preparing to serve as an elected representative.
Also during his tenure as the Chairman of HNLC, the council’s cadre had appointed themselves as the Moral Police of the society, especially punishing the fornicators and thieves by piercing their ears and put locks as ear-rings, making them to stand in public places for weeks with a placard displaying their crime.
Not only the HNLC, almost all the militant outfits always claimed to the protectors of the indigenous tribals, but none could spell out how they got the sanction to represent the society which simply remained as silent spectators fearing bullets.
With the arrest of the sitting legislator who once was the Chairman of the Council and who claimed to have protected the women in the state only exposed the propaganda any organization adopts only to gain the sentiment of the masses. Now the Women’s organisations in matrilineal Meghalaya have sought exemplary punishment for Dorphang, however, the Meghalaya Speaker, Abu Taher Mondal is yet to take any disciplinary action against the accused member in order to pave the way for a fair investigation to be conducted by the district administration and the Judiciary.
As most of the observers added, the shameful act of Dorphang if proved guilty, is just the tip of the iceberg as many more influential persons are willingly committing such crimes too. The fact that it did not come to the notice of the Law does not mean that they are innocent. In this particular case where a lawmaker is in question, it is clearly seen that the society needs to stand guard on its own.