From Our Correspondent
TURA: Tura Police successfully intercepted a group of arms suppliers for militant groups like the GNLA and the ANVC-B and arrested eight persons besides seizing pistols and ammunition from Chibragre picnic spot of Rongram, near Tura on Wednesday morning.
The breakthrough came following intelligence inputs about a possible meeting between Assam-based arms suppliers and their middlemen near Tura. A gang of three Assam based suppliers and four local collaborators were nabbed in the operation.
According to Tura Police, special SWAT teams were deployed at Chibragre picnic area of Rongram to intercept the shipment of arms. The police teams spotted a Tata Indica with Assam registration arrive at Chibragre at around 10 AM with three occupants who were welcomed by four Garos at the spot.
“As the exchange was taking place our boys moved in and arrested all seven people. On inspection of the vehicle we found two pistols with ammunition concealed inside a sack of potatoes,” West Garo Hills Superintendent of Police Mukesh Kr Singh informed The Shillong Times.
Two 7.62 mm pistols with seven rounds of ammunition and five magazine holders along with eight mobile phones and five thousand rupees were seized from the possession of the arrested persons.
The police have revealed that the gang had brought the weapons allegedly to sell to ANVC-B militants who had put up an order to buy them but had also previously sold a similar consignment to the banned GNLA outfit.
“They confessed that only last week they had brought two pistols which were sold to GNLA and there had been similar weapons transaction in the recent past,” informed Tura Police based on interrogation reports of the arrested men.
The weapons were brought to Garo Hills all the way from Bongaigaon region after it was delivered to the Assam trio by the main supplier. The Assam arms dealers were then to sell the weapons for Rs 70,000 each to the local dealers who in turn were to resell it to the Garo militant groups for a price of Rs 1-1.5 lakh each.
To evade the police dragnet, these arms dealers were regularly bringing in weapons in small quantities for quick disposal, informed security agencies.
“These dealers didn’t differentiate between the militant groups operating in Garo Hills. They were there purely to sell their consignment and make a quick buck,” informed another police official from Tura.
The three arms dealers from Assam have been identified as Samundar Daimary (26) and Bharat Basumatary (24) of Chirang district and Misambath D Sangma (28) of Goalpara district.
The four locals who were acting as conduits to sell the arms to militant groups are Henus G Momin (25) and Costing A Marak (32) of Ampati, Tinchu Ch Momin (19) of Babadam and Panseng A Sangma (35) of Dobasipara, Tura.
Tourist spots turned into drop zones
To shake off any possible tail by security forces, the arms dealers and their middlemen selected tourist spots in Garo Hills for the arms exchange. The arrested seven individuals from Chibragre have reportedly revealed that their previous exchange of weapons for cash took place at the Nehru Park area on the outskirts of Tura and as well as a secluded spot in Akhonggre area of the town.