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Rise in arms haul worries police

Nov. 14: It’s now official. Guwahati has become a transit point for those supplying illegal arms and ammunition to militants and criminals.

Police admitted this today after the haul last night of a cache of arms and ammunition that was being transported from Dimapur in Nagaland to Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills through Guwahati. While five persons were arrested with the cache, two more were subsequently arrested in Dimapur.

The police said the consignment was meant for the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), which is most active in the East Garo Hills.

The police, based on prior intelligence, intercepted a vehicle near Khetri here around 6.35pm and arrested five persons with the arms and ammunition. The haul included two AK-56 rifles with 10 magazines, one carbine magazine, two shotguns, six .32mm pistols with eight magazines and 254 rounds of ammunitions. A GNLA activist, Kelen Marak, 32, owner of the vehicle Ganesh Gogoi, its driver Nekib Hussain, helper Anil Rabi Das and a middleman, Umesh Singh, were arrested along with the arms.

Based on their confession, the police informed their counterparts in Dimapur, where Sirsung Sangma, an ex-CRPF constable, and Daflin Sangma, a GNLA cadre, were arrested. Sirsung, who hails from Garo hills, had been staying in a rented house in Dimapur.

Last night’s was the fifth such arms haul in the current year, in which the consignments were intercepted while being transported using the city as a transit point.

Inspector-general of police (central western range) L.R. Bishnoi said investigation into the recent arms recoveries revealed that arms suppliers were increasingly using the city as a transit point because of its geographical location and communication facilities. “We have managed to recover some sophisticated arms and arrest 20 people so far since March and it has been found that Guwahati has emerged as a transit point for arms suppliers. We have seen Dimapur as a point of illegal arms dealings and now Guwahati, too, is fast being used as transit point. The city shares a boundary with Meghalaya and is connected by railways and hence, criminals and arms dealers are using it for arms transportation. We will have to improve our intelligence network,” Bishnoi said.

The police had seized four pistols and arrested two GNLA cadres at Jorabat in March, five were arrested with sophisticated arms like HK rifles in Gorchuk and Sonapur in May and again at Gorchuk in June.

“We managed to make five seizures but they might have transported a lot more through Guwahati. So, we have to improve our intelligence network. Most of the arms are sold in Dimapur and are later transported through Guwahati,” Bishnoi said.

The police had also made many seizures at Guwahati railway station while the arms were being transported outside the region on trains from Dimapur.

“In the earlier cases, we had found that the arms were supplied by the NSCN but we are probing to find out which group had supplied the arms seized last night. We will also try to find out the nexus of GNLA with other militant groups like Ulfa, the NDFB and NSCN,” Bishnoi said.

Asked about Nagaland police’s role in checking illegal arms transportation through Guwahati, Bishnoi said, “They help us when we provide them with specific information.”