Nongpoh, Nov. 27: The tentacles of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), traced through the help of mobile towers, have spread to at least three states — Meghalaya, Assam and Nagaland — if the arrest of a hardcore cadre is anything to go by.
Yesterday, Ri Bhoi district police apprehended GNLA “commander” Haiderson Sangma from the Assam-Nagaland border.
Haiderson’s arrest comes in the wake of the police meticulously trying to rescue Mahesh Agarwal, manager of a sawmill from Umiam, who was abducted by the outfit on November 19.
Haiderson was arrested around 9am from Balipathar bazaar in Karbi Anglong district along the Assam-Nagaland border. It takes hardly 20 minutes to travel to Bokajan from Dimapur.
According to Ri Bhoi superintendent of police Claudia A. Lyngwa, Haiderson, who has been in and out of jail in the recent past in Garo hills, is the kingpin behind the arms supply racket from Dimapur to Garo hills.
“The GNLA had entered Ri Bhoi last year. It came as a shock to us to discover that the outfit has been able to penetrate right up to Umiam. We came to know about this when people from Umiam reported to us that a young Garo man was trying to recruit Garo youths from the locality to the GNLA,” Lyngwa told reporters here, around 55km from Shillong.
She also said Haiderson was supposed to take charge of the Byrnihat command, and for the last one year he had been sparking terror in the Pilangkata area.
Lyngwa said Haiderson also had his base in Dimapur, mainly for supplying arms to the GNLA. However, she was not in a position to completely confirm his or the GNLA’s links with the NSCN (I-M).
Three persons — Karneshwar Ch. Sangma alias Kiran, Emmanuel Ch. Sangma and Benjamin Hmar — had abducted Agarwal. Of the trio, only Karneshwar is a confirmed GNLA member.
Karneshwar’s arrest on Saturday evening from Nongpoh, Ri Bhoi district, subsequently led to the apprehension of Kamal Hussain from Chandmari, Guwahati, the same night. Karneshwar was on his way to Guwahati to meet Hussain. The police said Hussain was not part of the kidnapping, but provided shelter and guided Haiderson to Dimapur.
Emmanuel, Karneshwar’s younger brother, and Benjamin were arrested from Nongstoin in West Khasi Hills on Sunday. It was only with the help of airwaves through mobile towers that the police were able to trace Karneshwar.
“The arrests, especially that of Karneshwar’s, led to Haiderson’s apprehension, and the entire operation was spearheaded by deputy superintendent of police B. Laloo and Umiam police station officer in-charge P.S. Marwein,” Lyngwa said.
While Agarwal was released on Friday, the police got into the act of tracking down the culprits the following day.
Haiderson was also involved in the kidnapping of Dinesh Sharma, an owner of a stone crusher plant at Umtyrnga in Ri Bhoi in March this year.