Shillong, April 10: Meghalaya police today served a week’s ultimatum to the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) to “surrender” with all its weapons or face the wrath of security forces.
“The police have information that the general camp of the GNLA has a large number of unarmed youngsters apart from some armed militants.
“Meghalaya police have so far refrained from attacking the general camp to avoid causing harm to these youngsters,” Meghalaya director-general of police N. Ramachandran said in a statement today.
“It is to inform all concerned that the inmates of these camps are given seven days’ time to surrender to the authorities with whatever weapons they have, failing which the police will use force to attack and destroy these camps. The police will be compelled to use lethal weapons as the GNLA is armed with sophisticated arms,” the police chief added.
The police recently busted several GNLA camps in various parts of Garo Hills, especially East Garo Hills district.
On Easter Sunday, GNLA “commander-in-chief” Sohan D. Shira managed to give the police dragnet the slip again, when security forces busted his camp around 2km south of Bawegre village in East Garo Hills.
Ramachandran said GNLA militants have been involved in the barbaric killings of innocent citizens, kidnapping and extortion, all in the name of welfare for the Garo people. “However, instead of the welfare of the Garo people, it is now known that the GNLA leaders have been looking after their own welfare, filling their own pockets, making personal investments and stashing away huge amounts of money in neighbouring countries,” he said.
The police have information about certain “respectable” citizens who are engaged in collecting money on behalf of the militants as agents and middlemen, who have also enriched themselves in the process. “Police action is on for their prosecution,” the official said.
The police chief expressed concern over the recruitment of youngsters by the GNLA.
“What is most damaging has been that the militant group has been recruiting innocent youngsters and destroying their lives, many of them teenagers of a very impressionable age, who are unable to make their own informed decisions. This amounts to blatant exploitation of our children for private profit of a few persons, and if allowed to continue, may result in untold damage to our society,” Ramachandran said.