Saleng A. Sangma
Shillong, Dec. 1: The private residence of a Meghalaya cabinet minister near Tura in West Garo Hills district came under a grenade attack this evening. No one was, however, injured in the incident.
Around 7pm, an alleged Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) cadre, identified as June Sangma, lobbed a grenade at the private residence of community and rural development minister Saleng A. Sangma. The house is located at Ringregittim in Tura town.
However, at the time of the attack the cabinet minister was not present in the house as he was away in Shillong. Only some of his relatives, including the minister's younger brother, were there. The attack damaged a window pane and a portion of the boundary wall.
According to a senior police official, June is the right hand man of Hadeo Ch. Momin, GNLA “area commander” of Kherapara-Dalu in West Garo Hills.
The official said the attack was supposedly provoked by the minister’s refusal to pay heed to extortion demands.
“For the past six months, the minister has been receiving extortion demands from the outfit. But he refused to pay any extortionist. He has been under tremendous threat from the GNLA,” the official told The Telegraph.
The police official also alleged that Hadeo had personally planned the attack on the minister’s residence.
Moreover, after taking into consideration the threat perception, state police have recently upgraded Saleng’s security to “Z” category, the official added.
On November 2, the GNLA had allegedly planted three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on Kherapara-Chokpot Road to target security forces operating in the region.
The incident sparked panic since Saleng was also in the area around the same time to witness a football match. He had to eventually abandon his official entourage and walk for over 6km before he could reach a “safe” road.
Today’s attack comes exactly a week after former deputy chief minister Deborah C. Marak was attacked by alleged ANVC (B) militants near Williamnagar in East Garo Hills.
Recently, the state government advised politicians and other VIPs to inform their respective district administration about their movements in Garo hills and cautioned them from travelling without proper security cover.