Women protest against the rape and murder of an engineering student in Ranchi in December 2016. In Meghalaya, Julius Kitbok Dorphang, a rebel turned MLA, is accused of raping a minor girl twice last month, including once at a guest house belonging to family of state home minister HDR Lyngdoh. (Parwaz Khan/HT File Photo)
A rebel-turned-MLA from Meghalaya, accused of raping a 14-year-old girl twice – once in a guest house owned by the family of state home minister HDR Lyngdoh and the other time in a resort – was arrested early on Saturday from Guwahati.
Julius Kitbok Dorphang, an independent legislator representing Mawhati constituency, was later taken to Shillong and is now at the Sadar Police Station.
“We assisted a team of Meghalaya police in arresting the MLA from ISBT (Inter-State Bus Terminus) area on the outskirts of the city,” Guwahati commissioner of police Hiren Nath said.
Dorphang is believed to have been hiding in Assam with help from leaders of other militant outfits he had befriended during his underground days in Bangladesh two decades ago.
Dorphang was absconding before a court in Shillong issued a non-bailable warrant against him on Wednesday for allegedly raping the girl.
A police team from Meghalaya, with help from their Assam counterpart, raided a house in Guwahati on Thursday evening in a bid to arrest the 52-year-old Dorphang. But he gave them the slip.
“The house was raided because we had information the accused (Dorphang) visited it,” East Khasi Hills district superintendent of police M Kharkrang said from Meghalaya capital Shillong.
Reacting to reports from Meghalaya that leaders of Assam-based militant outfits on ceasefire mode, including United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), were helping Dorphang hide, Nath said: “We have no such information.”
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 chairperson of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), a Meghalaya-based militant outfit.
ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia refuted allegations that members of his organisation had sheltered Dorphang. “It is totally false. We cannot support a person involved in crime against a minor girl who is like my daughter. The law should take action against such notorious persons,” he told Hindustan Times.
Dorphang 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.
Women’s organisations in matrilineal Meghalaya have sought exemplary punishment for Dorphang. “Trafficking of girls is an organised racket that involves the high and mighty,” Shillong-based Agnes Kharshiing, heading an NGO for women’s rights, said.
Opposition parties in Meghalaya sniffed the Mukul Sangma government’s hand in such illegal activities after it transpired that state home minister Lyngdoh’s family owns the guest house where Dorphang allegedly raped the minor girl last month.
“There is no need for me to step down since I have given the police a free hand to investigate the case,” Lyngdoh said to silence critics baying for his blood.