GNLA chief arrested due to efforts of India, Bangladesh

July 31st, 2012 - 3:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Shillong, July 31 (IANS) Champion R. Sangma, the rebel chief of Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), was arrested due to sustained efforts of India and Bangladesh, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said Tuesday.

Champion, whose outfit is fighting for a separate Garoland, was arrested from Umkrem Pyrwdiwah area in East Khasi Hills district, about 80 km from Shillong, after he was pushed back by Bangladeshi authorities across the boundary.

“The arrest of Champion is the result of sustained efforts of both the governments (India and Bangladesh) to eradicate the menace of insurgency, terrorism and militancy from our soil,” the chief minister told IANS.

“We are hopeful of similar positive result in the near future to ensure peace in both the countries,” he added.

The GNLA supremo is wanted by police for masterminding several crimes, including killings and extortions, in insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.

It was reported that rebel leader had been arrested by police in Bangladesh in November 2010.

Sangma said the Indian government would continue to engage with neighbouring countries to flush out northeast rebels who are taking shelter in their territory.

“Our prime minister (Manmohan Singh) himself led a delegation to Bangladesh (2011)” to strike chord on a number of issues, including security and border, with that country, the chief minister said.

Earlier Monday, state police chief N. Ramachandran told IANS: “It is a prize catch for Meghalaya Police and we are hopeful that with his arrest we will be able to unravel the ins and outs of the GNLA.”

However, the Meghalaya Police chief said it was not clear if the rebel leader was pushed back into India by Bangladesh like other top separatist rebels of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in the past were.

“We have not interrogated him and we don’t know whether he was pushed back, but we arrested him from the area based on intelligence about his presence in the area,” Ramachandran said.

Champion, a former deputy superintendent of police, deserted the police force and floated the GNLA in November 2009.

The outfit, which has been outlawed by India, forged an operational alliance with the ULFA and the NDFB, which provided it access to sophisticated weapons and ammunition, and enabled it to unleash a reign of terror in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills.

It also forged an alliance with the Bangladesh-based rebel group, A’chik Special Dragon Party.

Over 35 people, including security personnel, have been killed in the Garo Hills in the last one year by GNLA rebels, who, according to police, number around 100.

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