Four people, including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate Jonathone Nengminza Sangma, were killed while three others were injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in poll-bound Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district on Sunday evening.
The incident took place around 7.30 pm at Sawilgre village, about 14 km from Samanda Block, when the candidate was returning to Williamnagar, the district headquarters of East Garo Hills from poll campaigning.
“Four bodies were found on the spot, including that of NCP candidate Jonathone Sangma. The other three bodies are yet to be identified,” district magistrate Ramkumar S was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.
The injured have been rushed to the Williamnagar Civil hospital.
Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear about the unexpected loss of Jonathone N Sangma. My heartfelt condolences to his near and dear ones. The blood of innocents spilled by the enemies of the state will not disturb the peace in Meghalaya.”
“This desperate act will not be tolerated. The perpetrators of the crime will be apprehended expeditiously and brought to book,” the chief minister added.
Jonathone Sangma, 43, was contesting the Assembly election from Williamnagar which he had unsuccessfully contested as an Independent candidate in 2013. He lost the elections to the incumbent education minister and senior Congress leader Deborah C Marak.
The incident was preceded by posters appearing in certain areas of Williamnagar constituency saying anyone who votes for the NCP candidate Jonathone Sangma would get bullets from “AK-17 and pistol”.
National People’s Party President Conrad K Sangma while offering expressing grief tweeted: “My heart goes out to the family of Jonathone Sangma, my dear friend who lost his life in a militant attack. May his soul rest in peace. Sad very unfortunate.”
Voicing “serious concern” on the blast, the Meghalaya Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted: “Our thoughts are with the near and dear ones of NCP candidate Shri Jonathan N Sangma and those travelling with him. The news that he was shot dead…comes as a serious concern on the eve of elections.”