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TURA: William Sangma, the wanted Garo militant, and his aide were arrested from Bongaigaon district of Assam on Tuesday evening.
The duo — the other person was identified as Niksrang Sangma, a member of his outfit, the A’chik Revolutionary Army (ARA), of Cheran Alda village in East Garo Hills — was caught after a brief chase by security forces on the outskirts of the gas refinery town of Bongaigaon district, about 150km from Tura.
William has been on the run for the last few months. Assam police stepped up its vigilance after a red alert was sounded about the rebel’s presence in the neighbouring Goalpara district of Assam.
On Tuesday, a team of Assam police spotted William in a Ford Figo passing through Tulungir village in Bongaigaon around 5pm and chased him. A dramatic turn of events followed.
The police soon caught up with William’s vehicle but the rebel abandoned his car and ran towards a crowd. However, the chase was short and William was caught by the people standing there who thrashed him and handed him to the police.
A bruised William later confessed to police that following the shootout with North Garo Hills police in a forest two weeks ago, he was given shelter by NDFB militant Sanjib Basumatary in Kokrajhar town of Assam. He was contemplating returning to Garo Hills to expand his new group, ARA, when police spotted him.
After the gunfight with North Garo Hills police, William fled the district leaving behind his personal weapon, a powerful American M-4 automatic rifle, with a close aide who was later arrested and the weapon seized.
He had earlier escaped from Mendipathar police station after overpowering a security guard. He is wanted in several cases ranging from murder, rape, kidnapping and extortion.
William, who graduated from being a petty criminal dabbling in extortion and kidnapping, got into militancy after coming in contact with the former commander-in-chief of the now disbanded United A’chik Liberation Army (UALA), Singbirth Sangma alias Norok X. Momin.
Norok was killed in a shootout with North Garo Hills police on February 25.
With active support from Norok, William had formed ARA and recruited cadres from the Bodo outfit NDFB and Garos in Karbi Anglong and Garo Hills.
William had organised a rag tag group of men and obtained a handful of guns from the arms smuggling racket in Dimapur and was beginning to pose a potential threat to the government.
North Garo Hills police raided his hideout early this month and seized his favourite weapon, the American M-4 automatic rifle.