Biggest arms haul by police, GNLA chief escapes

From Our Correspondent

 TURA: East Garo Hills police stormed a major hideout of the GNLA in which the outfit’s army chief Sohan D Shira was holed up leading to a heavy exchange of fire in which the militant leader escaped but left behind a huge number of highly explosive rocket propelled grenades, the biggest haul in recent times.

Williamnagar police deployed SWAT commandos with support from CoBRA units of the CRPF in the jungles of Bawegre village, 10 kms from the district headquarters, on Easter Sunday morning following intelligence reports of militant movement.

While combing the dense jungles across the Simsang river, two and a half kms south of Bawegre village, the commandos came under a hail of fire from militants guarding a camp of the outfit.

The intense battle which lasted a little over 15 minutes witnessed both sides using heavy weaponry in the form of RPG fire.

Both police teams and GNLA militants traded fire using RPG creating fear and confusion in Williamnagar where the sound of the explosions could be heard.

“We fired nothing short of 5-6 RPGs and the militants also opened up with their RPGs,” said SP JFK Marak.

He also said that commando units that participated in the operation spotted Sohan D Shira and his bodyguard identified as one Bartush Ch Momin of Chachatgre.

“Sohan escaped in the firing while Bartush was hit in the stomach but taken away,” said the SP.

By the time it was over and the militants had fled, the police came across 66 numbers of live RPG shells neatly packed and concealed in one of the three camp tents set up in the jungle. The militants also left behind much of their belongings in the form of warm clothes and bags along with a mobile phone, one SBML gun used for hunting wild animals and large number of incriminating documents.

The camp was also well stocked with food and snacks like packaged soft drinks and small snack items and when police attacked the kitchen was in full operation with meals being cooked.

“His (Sohan’s) hideouts are diminishing by the day and he is running out of options. It is just a matter of time before we get him,” said the SP. He also said that the people no longer support the militant leader and his group because of their alleged atrocities committed on members of the public.

“Having seen his brutality like beating to death a very old man and killing a retired police constable merely on suspicion, Sohan no longer has the support of the people. Villagers no longer treat him as their own but as a dictator who tries to control the people with an iron fist. Such threats no longer work,” said SP JFK Marak.

There was also more good news in the form of safe release of the six coal export company workers who had been kidnapped by GNLA from Gasuapara on Thursday night. The six were released unharmed from a jungle hideout early Sunday morning and has since been brought to Baghmara safely. Police do not rule out the payment of ransom for their early release.

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