Shillong, May 4 (IANS) The outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), a powerful rebel group in Meghalaya, on Wednesday received another setback as 16 rebels surrendered to the authorities along with a huge cache of arms and ammunition, police said.
A police spokesman said among the top GNLA rebels who laid down their arms is Philiport D. Shira, the area commander of the outfit’s northern command — the outfit’s most potent fighting unit.
“There are serious internal conflicts within the GNLA after Sohan D. Shira, the military wing chief, refused to share the extortion money with various commands,” Philiport told IANS.
“The other reason for the entire command to give up to the authorities was pressure from the general public in the wake of the counter-insurgency operations in Garo Hills,” he said.
Philiport led the group to Shillong from their hideouts in Garo Hills and surrendered before Director General of Police Rajiv Mehta in the presence of senior police officials at the state’s police headquarters here.
Among those who surrendered were Anurag Sangma alias Mike Aubry, the outfit’s spokesman and Serejing alias Kediang N. Sangma.
The rebels also deposited a huge cache of weapons including four AK and one INSAS rifles, pistols, grenade, 484 rounds of ammunition, four handsets, incriminating documents and 19 numbers of illegal SIM cards.
“This is the biggest surrender of the GNLA after we launched Operation Hill Storm-3 against the GNLA rebels in the five districts of Garo Hills. The mass surrender by GNLA’s northern command indicates that the outfit is losing its support base within its ranks and that there is growing frustration prompting them to surrender,” Inspector General of Police in-charge Operations, G.H.P. Raju told IANS.
This is the second major surrender of GNLA rebels in the last six days.
The GNLA, which claims to be fighting for a separate ‘Garoland’ in western Meghalaya, is headed by police officer-turned-rebel Champion R. Sangma, who is lodged in the Shillong jail after being arrested from near the India-Bangladesh border in 2012.