20 Garo rebels surrender, cop held for militant link

The GNLA cadre, led by Chief Instructor Mingran T Sangma, were brought to Shillong from Garo Hills overnight for the surrender ceremony that was held at the police reserve lines here in presence of top police officials.

The surrendered activists deposited one M16 rifle, three M16 magazines, 30 rounds of M16 ammunition, one AK 56, three AK magazines, 99 AK ammunition, one SLR rifle, three pistols, 42 rounds of 7.65 pistol, two boxes of detonators, one grenade and several documents.

The cadre hailed from different places in the three districts of Garo hills. The GNLA chief instructor told reporters the group came overground dissatisfied with the style of functioning of some of the leaders of the outfit.

"The booty was not shared equally among all the ranks," Sangma, a former cadre of the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) which is now on ceasefire, said. He claimed that GNLA 'chairman' Champion Sangma, a dismissed Deputy Superintendent of Meghalaya Police, has been camping in Dhaka and unsuccessfully trying to set up bases in the neighbouring country.

The outfit also claimed to forge links with the banned ULFA which is also expanding its bases in Garo hills – a transit to and from Bangladesh. Sangma claimed that villagers are giving full support to the group at places in Garo hills, especially to alert during police operations.

The GNLA is presently the most active militant group in Meghalaya and has been blamed for rampant extortion in the Garo hills belt. On April 6, the group had gunned down five coal labourers in South Garo Hills district. Few days back, there were reports of firing on trucks by the militants in the coal belt areas of West Khasi Hills district.

The outfit, claiming to be fighting for an independent Garoland, carried out a number of kidnappings over the last couple of months and slapped extortion demands on traders.

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