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TURA: In a major security lapse in the heart of a police battalion headquarters, unidentified persons set ablaze eight vehicles inside the compound of the 2nd MLP battalion headquarters at Goeragre, 13 kms from Tura around midnight of Monday.
The brazen attack has sent shockwaves in the security establishments of the state, particularly in Garo Hills region plagued by decades-long insurgency.
The arsonists targeted the parking lot just below the battalion office headquarters where as many as five new police Maruti Gypsy vehicles and a small number of two wheelers were parked for the night.
The parking area is just a few meters away from the sentry post located near the main battalion gates.
The arson which took place minutes before midnight resulted in all five police gypsies being completely destroyed in the fire.
The blaze also destroyed two motorcycles and a scooter, belonging to the battalion personnel and brought down the CGI roofing of the parking arena.
“This is a very serious issue involving security and we have ordered for a thorough investigation. Preliminary indications appear to reveal it to be an inside job. We are probing all angles,” said Meghalaya Director General of Police Dr S B Singh while speaking to The Shillong Times.
The commandant of the 2nd MLP battalion, H Toi was away in Shillong when the arson attack took place.
The attack caught the security personnel completely unawares and as the alarm was sounded personnel from the camp allegedly rushed out of their quarters with their service weapons in hands believing it to be a militant attack on their compound.
By then the fire had spread to all the parked vehicles.
Fire tenders from Rongram, less than 2 kms away, had to be rushed in to douse the flames and by that time it was too late to salvage any of the vehicles.
Questions are being raised as to how such an incident could occur inside what is presumably a ‘well protected’ institute that is at the forefront of the war against insurgents in Garo Hills and the state.
The presence of the night security team guarding the main entry and exit points have also come under scrutiny given that the place of incident was at a stone’s throw away from the sentry post located at the main gate.
To make matters, the battalion allegedly did not have any CCTV sets operational in the compound in spite of the sensitive situation prevailing in the region due to militancy.