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Top Garo rebel leader surrenders

Shillong, Aug. 29: A top militant in Meghalaya’s Garo hills region, who had a narrow escape during an encounter last year, surrendered before police today along with arms and ammunition.

Artil G. Momin alias Pangkkam of the Liberation of A’chik Elite Force surrendered before the sub-divisional police officer of Resubelpara, B.D. Marak, at 1.15pm. Resubelpara is situated close to Mendipathar in East Garo Hills district.

Momin also brought along a .32 pistol with six live rounds, two hand grenades and two rocket-propelled grenades.

The police said Momin was part of the Liberation of A’chik Elite Force faction led by Jokin Momin, who was killed during an “encounter” at Gajingpara in Resubelpara on December 10 last year.

While Jokin and three others were killed during the encounter, five cadres were arrested and one managed to flee with a bullet injury.

The police said the surrendered militant was on the run ever since the December encounter.

It may be mentioned that the Liberation of A’chik Elite Force was formed by a former Meghalaya policeman, Peter Marak, who unleashed a reign of terror in various parts of Garo hills and also in the coal mining belt of West Khasi Hills.

However, in 2007, Peter was finally arrested by the state police from Jorabat along the Meghalaya-Assam border. Within a few days of his arrest, Peter died under mysterious circumstances.

Although the police had claimed that the rebel leader died during an exchange of fire, allegations were rife that Peter was shot dead in a stage-managed encounter.

Following the death of Peter, the outfit disintegrated into several groups led by various leaders.

However, with the disintegration of the Liberation of A’chik Elite Force, the state police had to grapple with another quandary — the birth of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) in late 2009.

Led by Champion R. Sangma, a former deputy superintendent of police, and Sohan D. Shira, former leader of the A’chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), it is alleged that the soldiers of the GNLA consist mainly of deserters from these two outfits.

While the GNLA has claimed that it has around 200 cadres under its fold, the director-general of the Assam Rifles, Lt Gen. Rameshwar Roy, on Friday said the outfit has not more than 70 members.

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