US-made weapon seized from arrested ARA ultra
TURA: Recruits from Karbi Anglong in Assam, weapons routed through Bodo militants and shelter provided by local sympathisers in the forests of Garo Hills allowed wanted criminal William A. Sangma to grow and create his own outfit.
Police got the information after they arrested a 32-year-old militant, Sengman Ch Marak, during a combined operation by North and East Garo Hills forces early Tuesday morning.
The joint police force raided a house at Alda Cheran village, which is 38km from Resubelpara, in East Garo Hills and recovered a sophisticated automatic American weapon.
Sengman has since been singing like a bird providing authorities with details of the new armed organisation, the A’chik Revolutionary Army (ARA), floated by William.
William is wanted by the police of both Assam and Meghalaya. In the last six years he has been accused of crimes ranging from murder, rape, kidnap and extortion. He had previously escaped from police lock up in Mendipathar after overpowering the guard on duty.
The police seized a US-made M-4 automatic rifle and ammunition. The M-4 is a top-end version of the M-16 rifle used by law enforcement agencies in the US. It can fire 30 rounds in a single magazine. Among the northeastern states, only Mizoram provides its force commandos with the M-4 weapon.
The police said William got the weapon from a cadre of the Assam-based National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
NDFB cadre Sanjib Basumatary, who purchased the weapon for William from an arms supplier in Nagaland, is said to have joined the new ARA group.
The money for the M-4 rifle is believed to have been obtained from ransom paid by one of William’s kidnapped victims.
Some weeks ago he and his gang intercepted a car at Rari Road connecting Bajengdoba and Tura, and kidnapped a trader, Tapas Bhowmik, from Siliguri. His family allegedly paid a substantial amount for his safe release.
The new rag tag group of criminals consists of less than a dozen cadres drawn from different outfits.
Photos seized from the arrested militant reveal that the gang is in possession of a Chinese carbine fitted with a silencer.
Last week, North Garo Hills police came close to nabbing the elusive criminal at a check point in Thapa Darenchi village of Dagal. He abandoned his vehicle and fled into the forests leaving behind a Chinese carbine gun.
One of his cadres, Rohit M Sangma alias Gettingson Sangma, who hailed from Karbi Anglong district of Assam, was caught in that operation.
Police claimed that Rohit revealed the nexus between William and jailed GNLA chairman Champion Sangma.
“He (Rohit) was told by William that the idea to float ARA outfit came from the GNLA leader who once shared the same prison cell with him,” said North Garo Hills SP Dalton P. Marak.
An attempt was also made to forge ties with the breakaway group of the disbanded United A’chik Liberation Army but the death of its military chief Singbirth Marak alias Norok X. Momin in a gun battle last month put paid to William’s plans.