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Police hunt on to neutralise ultras dealing with scrapped cash

Several accounts of militants, relatives frozen

SHILLONG: Police are on a hunt for more militants, especially from Garo Hills, who are trying to convert the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes after the recent recovery of such currency notes from the conduits of GNLA.
“We have decided to intensify operations against militants who are black money holders,” said a senior police official on Saturday.
In the past, busting the financial source of militants had paid dividends in controlling militancy. A case in point is HNLC whose financial backings were controlled by the police resulting in neutralising the militant outfit.
Demonetisation has come in handy for Meghalaya police to check the growth of militants in Garo Hills.  “Demonetisation seems to have opened new vistas for investigation by police to trail the money that GNLA had extorted from various persons in Garo Hills,” the police official said.
The first significant recovery was in East Garo Hills on November 17 when police arrested a number of hardcore GNLA cadres and dug out more than Rs 35 lakh which was given to them   by the wife of GNLA chief Sohan D. Shira.
East Garo Hills police had also raided the houses of Sohan and his brother-in-law, but both fled.
Similarly, more arrests in South Garo Hills on December 1 resulted in the discovery of the money trail from senior GNLA cadre Baichung. The arrest of a minor boy on November 30 in West Garo Hills also revealed an interesting lead as GNLA supremo Sohan provided unaccounted money to the minor to target the surrendered cadres with a purpose to eliminate them. Sohan also took the help of the minor to kidnap a teacher in East Garo Hills.
Alert to banks; accounts frozen
Police have also alerted all the banks about the possibility of GNLA depositing the scrapped currency notes through various proxies. A number of businessmen, contractors and petrol pumps are under the scanner of police for their alleged links with GNLA.
Earlier, South Garo Hills Police arrested one Fermia Evans N Sangma alias Boti Sangma, wife of rebel leader Reading Sangma. Besides recovering money from her house, her accounts were also frozen.
Similarly a number of accounts belonging to the wife and brother-in-law of Sohan have been frozen.
Police indicated that account of any person who receives money from GNLA, ASAK or any other militant organisation would be frozen.
Centre issues advisories
The Centre has issued advisories to the State Government and police forces to keep an eye on the dubious transactions where the money comes from the militants and terrorists.
BSF and police are also keeping a vigil on the border as some of the money extorted by GNLA and ULFA(I) may travel back to India through various channels from the neighbouring country.
Police sources said due to demonetisation, the militant organisations are in a difficult situation and there are reports that they are contacting businessmen from outside the State to help them exchange the money as a number of enforcement agencies, including police, are keeping an eye on such activities. The businessmen from the State as well as from outside seem to have not responded to the illegal requests of GNLA and ASAK, police added.

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