Question mark over identity of Baija attackers
From Our Correspondent
SHILLONG: The border lines of restraint in the militancy troubled waters of Garo Hills appear to be getting murkier by the day as both the ANVC and the GNLA trade charges accusing one another of violence even as suspense surrounds the identity of Monday night’s attackers on a police SWAT commando team at Baija.
The Garo National Liberation Army, presently the most active outfit in Garo Hills, has denied its involvement and instead put the blame on the ANVC accusing the group under ceasefire of undertaking ‘stealth’ operations with the full knowledge of the state police.
The GNLA’s latest spokesperson and right hand man of its army chief Sohan D Shira, spoke to The Shillong Times to squarely attribute the attack on its bitter rival.
Kakam D Shira said it was an ANVC operation against his group which went awry.
“A handful of ANVC militants under the command of Khatong had planned to cross the Simsang river for subversive activities by targeting innocent civilians and blame the GNLA but the mission was aborted after they saw police vehicles and opened fire believing they were onto them,” claimed Kakam Shira.
He went on to add that his group’s cadres have long left the vicinity of Williamnagar town and its adjoining areas to regroup following the death of their deputy army chief Roster Marak and three others two weeks ago.
While all this may sound a bit bizarre there is no doubt the abhorrence for each other remains. ANVC continues to accuse GNLA of raising the ugly head of militancy once again whereas GNLA accuses ANVC of continuing with its agenda of violence albeit ‘clandestinely’.
Both groups have sought civil society role to rein in each other. The ANVC wants the NGOs to come out and end the GNLA diktats. The GNLA, on its part, claim ANVC doesn’t have the moral authority to do so and brings forth a string of allegations on their bitter rivals.
The latest allegation comes from GNLA political affairs secretary Bikdot Nikjang Marak who alleges there exists mass graves in the vicinity of two ANVC designated compounds.
“Innocent civilians who refused to obey the ANVC diktats have been disappearing ever since the ceasefire was signed. There are unmarked graves behind the ANVC liaison office in Tura Youth Hostel and their camp in Samanda. Why police is failing to investigate them?” the militant group questioned terming the events as “the darkest chapter in Garo Hills history”.
The GNLA leader has not spared the ANVC top brass either claiming that the Chairman of the group, Dilash Marak, has sought Indian citizenship for his wife under a fictitious name from inside Garo Hills. State police officials in Shillong do acknowledge that the ANVC chairman tied the knot with his girlfriend from Bangladesh during the height of insurgency in the Garo Hills.But the question of seeking her a citizenship in India, be it directly or otherwise, had never surfaced in the open.
While both groups trade charges there is much work for the state government, in particular its law enforcement agencies, to do to stop this war of words from escalating into a full blown pitch battle where innocent civilians could get caught up in the cross fire for no fault of theirs.