Rebel leader nabbed in Meghalaya, abducted official to be freed

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SHILLONG - A top commander of the Meghalaya rebel outfit Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) has been arrested, police said Tuesday, even as the group announced it would free an abducted official by Wednesday.

Sengwan Marak, the area commander of the GNLA, was arrested Monday night from a safe house in Danaidubi area of the East Garo Hills district, a police official said.

An Italian-made revolver with six rounds of ammunition was recovered from him.

“The arrest of Sengwan is a major setback for the GNLA,” district police chief Sylvester Nongtynger told IANS.

A combing operation, “Operation Durama”, has been launched in the three districts of Garo Hills to curb the growing activities of the GNLA in western Meghalaya.

The combing operation jointly carried out by state police’s Special Operation Team and Central Reserve Police Force was launched after GNLA rebels kidnapped R. Syngkon, district transport officer (DTO) of East Garo Hills district, and his driver from his official residence in Williamnagar in west Meghalaya Sep 30.

“The combing operation against the GNLA will continue till we nab all the top-rung leaders of the GNLA. The operation has been successful and we have made them run for their lives,” Nongtynger said.

Meanwhile, GNLA’s military wing chief, Sohan D. Shira announced through an English daily that it will “release unharmed” Syngkon, the abducted transport officer, by Wednesday.

However, Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) S.K. Jain said that the police have no inputs on GNLA’s plan to free the official.

The GNLA, headed by police officer-turned-rogue Champion R. Sangma, had earlier sent extortion demands of Rs.60 lakh to Syngkon through mobile text messages. However, Syngkon did not comply with the demand.

Shira, however, claimed that Syngkon was kidnapped for indulging in “corrupt practices” and warned government officials in the region not to indulge in corruption.

“Syngkon has learnt the lesson hard and vouched that he will not repeat the deed he did before and we believe he will keep his word.”

“Each corrupt officer will meet with dire consequences or share the same fate or worst than Syngkon,” Shira was quoted as saying by the daily.

The GNLA, one of the five Garo rebel groups, is demanding a sovereign Garoland in western Meghalaya and is believed to have links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

Last week, GNLA rebels killed two migrant coal miners and attacked a petrol pump in South Garo Hills district to create fear in the coalmine areas and to extort money.

The rebel group had earlier slapped extortion demands ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.1 crore on petrol pump owners, coal dealers and businessmen in the coal-rich districts of Garo Hills.

Filed under: Terrorism

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