Top PLA rebel arrested in Meghalaya

September 5th, 2012 - 4:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, Sep 5 (IANS) A top rebel of the outlawed People’s Liberation Army of Manipur was arrested from eastern Meghalaya near the Bangladesh border, an official said Wednesday.

Athokpam Surchandra Singh, who holds the rank of lieutenant and Area Secretary of Imphal (West) Division of the PLA, was arrested late Tuesday from Dawki area in Meghalaya’s East Khasi Hills district, Border Security Force (BSF) spokesman Ravi Gandhi said.

Gandhi said the rebel was apprehended while trying to infiltrate into Bangladesh from the Dawki border. The troopers also recovered Indian currency of Rs.8,735 and two cell phones from Athokpam’s possession.

Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly, unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.

“The rebel revealed that he spent most of his time camping in Bangladesh ever since he joined the PLA in 1993,” Gandhi said.

Athokpam had sneaked into India from Bangladesh in December 2011, and had been based at Imphal, the capital of Manipur, overseeing PLA activities.

While in Bangladesh, Gandhi said Athokpam was involved in the organisational work of PLA in Bangladesh. His work involved organising public meetings and motivating local Bangladeshi youth to join the PLA.

The Manipur-based outfit has been maintaining close links with other northeast extremist outfits, including those who have taken shelter in Bangladesh.

The PLA, a rebel group fighting for an independent homeland for the majority Metei community in Manipur, has reportedly set up bases in Bangladesh.

There are about 20 militant groups active in Manipur, bordering Myanmar. Their demands range from secession to greater autonomy.

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