Meghalaya police said on Saturday they rescued six minors including two girls from a farm run by BJP State Vice President Bernard N Marak Rimpu in West Garo Hills district and arrested 73 people during a raid conducted on the basis of complaints.
Rimpu Bagan, a farm belonging to activist-turned-politician Marak, was raided on the basis of a tip-off, West Garo Hills District Police Superintendent Vivekanand Singh told PTI.
“We rescued six minors – four boys and two girls – who were found locked up in unsanitary rooms resembling seedy cabins in Rimpu Bagan, run by Bernard N Marak and his accomplices like a brothel, for the purpose of prostitution,” Singh said.
All of the children have been handed over to the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) for safe custody and other measures as required by law, he said.
Police said materials recovered from the farmhouse suggested it was being used as a brothel for prostitution. “From the materials recovered from Rimpu Bagan as well as the design of the building, it appears that the place was used by Bernard N Marak Rimpu and his accomplice as a brothel for the purpose of prostitution,” said a statement released by West Garo. Hill Police.
The raid was carried out on Friday evening and, according to police, continued until 2 a.m. Saturday.
Police further said the six people, including two underage girls, were rescued from an “unsanitary” state and were all found in a state of shock and fear. At least three couples were found in “compromising situations” in cramped rooms inside the farm on the outskirts of Tura, the West Garo Hills district headquarters.
At least 73 people partying at the farm were arrested and subsequently arrested for illegal and immoral activities. A case was registered under the relevant sections of the IPC and the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act 1956.
The BJP is a minor ally in the Meghalaya coalition government led by the National People’s Party (NPP). Marak, while speaking to a section of the media in Meghalaya, however, refuted the charges made by the police and claimed that it was a “political plot” by the NPP-led government in the state. He said he informed the BJP high command of the police action.
“The CM is getting desperate as they know they are losing their South Tura seat to the BJP. The raid on my farm is a desperate attempt on their part to defame my image and a political vendetta,” he claimed .
Police said they asked Marak to cooperate with the investigation and report to Shillong Sadar police station immediately, but he escaped arrest. Marak was the chairman of the now disbanded militant group, Achik National Volunteers Group (B). He joined politics after signing an agreement with the government.
(With PTI entries)