Shillong, May 13 (IANS) Twenty-four more rebels of the outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) on Friday surrendered in the wake of a crackdown against the outfit in the western part of Meghalaya.
The “Operation Hill Storm 3” launched by the Meghalaya Police with the support of paramilitary forces in the five districts of Garo Hills has forced the elusive GNLA military wing chief, Sohan D. Shira, to flee to Bangladesh.
Hedeo Ch. Momin alias Karak, the “Action Commander” of the GNLA, the “Area Commander of West Garo Hills” Chingnang alias Nun and “Deputy Area Commander of Chokpot” Sengrak M. Marak alias Dimbreng surrendered before Chief Secretary K.S. Kropha.
“Sohan escaped to Bangladesh together with another bodyguard from South Garo Hills a couple of weeks back due to the operations against us,” Alpha Ch. Marak, one of his bodyguards, told journalists.
Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of it porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.
The rebels also deposited a huge cache of weapons including two AK and one SLR rifles, two pistols, 1,304 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition, 3,446 medium machine guns and incriminating documents.
“This is the biggest surrender of the GNLA after we launched Operation Hill Storm-3 in the five districts of Garo Hills,” Inspector General of Police G.H.P. Raju told IANS.
“The surrender of the rebels will force other rebels to come out from the jungles leaving Sohan alone,” Raju added.
He said more than 130 GNLA rebels had been arrested and 119 had surrendered since the operation began.
The GNLA, which claims to be fighting for a separate ‘Garoland’ in western Meghalaya, is headed by police officer-turned-rebel Champion R. Sangma.
Sangma is now in the Shillong jail, after being arrested from near the India-Bangladesh border in 2012.