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Mukul plea on SIM misuse

Shillong, Aug. 7: Chief minister Mukul Sangma has asked police to inquire into the “misuse” of SIM cards by militants in Garo hills of Meghalaya.

Sangma’s directive to the police came at a law and order review meeting with deputy commissioners and superintendents of police at Tura today.

Despite the state government entering into a ceasefire with the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) in 2004, there has been no respite in the spurt in criminal activities of other militant groups.

Outfits like the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) and the Liberation of Achik Elite Force have been active in West, South and East Garo Hills districts with incidents like extortion and kidnappings on the rise in the past two years.

Block development officers and other government officials have, in the past, complained of receiving extortion notes from the GNLA through SMS (short messaging service).

The outfit continues to send such demand notes to government officials and businessmen in Garo hills.

Officials who attended the meeting today said the chief minister stressed the need to curb criminal activities of the militant outfits in Garo hills.

The police have tried to verify the text messages of extortion and their sources but the mobile phones from which the militants sent the SMSs were found to belong to fictitious people.

For instance, verification of some text messages sent by self-styled finance secretary of GNLA, Jakpil Sangma, revealed that the militant had used fake identity cards to procure SIM cards.

The procurement of SIM cards through fictitious names by militants pose hurdles for the police to catch the rebels who send text messages to extort money.

The chief minister asked the Garo hills deputy commissioners to find out from the cell phone companies how militants get access to SIM cards.

The officials plan to summon telecom operators and distributors to ensure the cell phones are provided to subscribers with valid addresses.

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