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Surrender of GNLA second in command a blow to Sohan

Rupanto says outfit chief a dictator

TURA: The ‘deputy commander-in-chief’ of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), along with another cadre, surrendered before East Garo Hills police on Friday dealing a body blow to the banned outfit led by Sohan D Shira.
Sohan’s deputy Zen Roberth Ch Marak, who is known to police by his aliases Toding and Rupanto, and senior cadre Armindo B Marak alias Rangdat had no other option but to surrender before district police chief Davis Nestell R Marak on Friday afternoon after the 11 cadres led by Rupanto deserted him and took away all weapons.
The two rebels only had a pistol and some ammunition with them when they came to the police.
Rupanto, who is from Nengmandalgre village in Williamnagar, was the senior-most member in Sohan’s inner circle and was privy to most of the decisions taken by the GNLA chief.
He contacted police on Friday morning and expressed his willingness to surrender. He later came from the Durama Hills region, the GNLA’s hideout, with Rangdat to surrender.
Accusing Sohan of being a “dictator”, the surrendered rebel blamed Sohan for the disintegration of the organisation. “He did not allow any member of his organisation to question his methods. Those who tried to raise any issue were removed,” Rupanto told police at the time of his surrender.
He also narrated stories of GNLA cadres being ticked off and executed on Sohan’s order merely on suspicion of working against him and the GNLA. “Those who were murdered never got a chance to present their case on the allegations against them. Without any proof or proper inquiry, they were executed in cold blood,” the police quoted Rupanto as saying.
The surrendered GNLA deputy also told the police that Sohan assaulted and bludgeoned to death a school teacher at Jinggamgre village two months ago “merely on the accusation that he was working for police”. The teacher was Rupanto’s nephew.
The other cadre, Rangdat, hailing from Damal Asim village of Dadenggre in West Garo Hills, was named in several cases when he was active in North Garo Hills.
Sohan left with 19 cadres
As many as 20 militants from two command units of the GNLA have broken away to form their own groups leaving Sohan D Shira with just 18 armed men and one injured cadre under his command, Rupanto told police on Friday.
Rupanto was supposed to lay down arms along with his entire group of 13 cadres.
“Since many of the cadres had expressed their willingness to return to the mainstream, I had called for a general meeting to take everyone’s opinion,” Rupanto told after surrendering.
The cadres had agreed to surrender en masse but on the same night, 11 of them ran away with all the weapons, including Rupanto’s AK rifle.
“Interestingly, Rupanto did not mention about the Hekler and Koch-made automatic rifle that was given to each commander by Sohan Shira,” police said.
The 11 cadres who fled from Rupanto’s camp later called their leader up to apologise with a promise to surrender later “but only after they made some money”.
Police said this was an indication that the runaway rebels would perpetrate crime like extortion and abduction.
Meanwhile, another nine militants under Chokpot commander Baichung Ch Momin have also deserted the outfit to form their own group. Police suspect that this breakaway faction was behind the abduction of trader Nirmal Saha from Sangknigre village in Chokpot on Wednesday evening.

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