15 ‘child soldiers’ forcibly kept in GNLA camp: Surrendered cadres
TURA/ SHILLONG: Five senior members of the GNLA’s finance wing have deserted the outfit and surrendered to Meghalaya police along with an assortment of heavy weapons on Thursday.
The five senior cadres who were given explosives and arms training by ULFA militants in GNLA camps as way back as 2012 abandoned their group and surrendered on Wednesday night in East Garo Hills from where they were taken to Shillong for the official handing over of the weapons before Meghalaya Director General of Police (DGP) Rajiv Mehta on Thursday.
The five militants were led by senior cadre Rakseng Ch Marak who is well known in GNLA circles as Geloram. A resident of Kolabari in Rongsak, East Garo Hills, Geloram was said to be involved in several ambushes and IED attacks on police.
The other four militants are Krewingbirth S Sangma alias Gongga of Deku Chokpot, Jambil Ch Momin alias Jamindar of Deku Chokpot, Walban R Marak alias Bawil/Rewak of Rewak Siju and Tarzan Ch Sangma alias Ruby of Watregittim Nongalbibra.
The militants brought along with them three powerful AK 56 rifles, a G-3 rifle, a carbine, one grenade, magazines and 519 rounds of ammunition.
They revealed that they belonged to the 4th batch of GNLA recruits who underwent training in 2012. ULFA militants imparted training in drill, arms handling, preparation of IEDs, and a sizeable number of ULFA recruits were also jointly given training alongside the GNLA cadres in the general camp of the outfit in the Durama Hills.
After completion of their training these five recruits were placed with the finance wing of the GNLA in Nongalbibra under the command of finance secretary Rakkam. They were tasked to commit crimes such as kidnappings, abductions and extortion. They also took part in GNLA ambushes and IED attacks on security forces, it was revealed.
Speaking to media persons during the surrender ceremony in Shillong, DGP Rajiv Mehta said the GNLA militants surrendered due to police operations and due to the role played by church leaders and NGOs.
“We need this kind of cooperation as it will bring peace in Garo Hills and it is time to give peace a chance in Garo Hills,” Mehta said.
Reacting to a query on the instances where surrendered militants go back to their criminal activities, the police chief said there will be no amnesty or rehabilitation for those who are involved in heinous crimes and they would be treated as criminals.
Narrating their plight, one of the surrendered militants Krewingbirth Sangma said they were unhappy with the functioning of GNLA and had decided that continuing with the outfit was useless.
He revealed that there were around 50-60 cadres with Rakkam D Shira.
He disclosed that they had received training in their general camp in Durama from ULFA cadres who frequented the camp.
In a big disclosure, the surrendered militant revealed the GNLA ploy of recruiting ‘child soldiers’ and added that there were 15 innocent children in the camp who were recruited into the GNLA through threat.
He also said they were paid stipends of Rs 2000-3000 per month and stated that they were fighting for Garoland without having any idea of what the word ‘Garoland’ meant.
Claiming that GNLA commander-in-chief Sohan Shira was in East Garo Hills the surrendered militant said Sohan never distributed the money collected through abductions and extortions.
52 ultras gunned down in 18 months: Police
Altogether 52 militants including 20 from GNLA have been killed in counter insurgency operations in the State in the last 18 months.
Police statistics on counter insurgency operations reveal that 14 GNLA cadres were killed in 2015 while six GNLA militants have been killed in 2016 so far.
11 AMEF cadres were also killed in 2015.
According to police data, 50 encounters took place in 2015 in which 254 militants were arrested and 107 militants surrendered, besides recovery of 84 arms and 879 ammunitions.
In addition, eight camps belonging to different militant outfits were also busted by Meghalaya police.
This year so far, there have been 27 encounters and 130 militants have been arrested while 63 militants have surrendered.
While 15 militants have been killed this year, police have recovered 34 arms and 839 ammunitions.
This year also police have busted four GNLA camps in East Garo Hills.