Shillong, Aug. 25: The Garo National Liberation Army’s (GNLA) increasing influence in the western part of Meghalaya has contributed to a rise in security problems between 2010 and 2012, statistics provided by the Union ministry of home affairs have revealed.
According to figures in the ministry’s annual report, there was a rapid increase of security-related incidents in the state in 2012 compared to 2011.
The year 2012 also witnessed a rise in the number of civilians killed, while at the same time the number of militants who surrendered or were either arrested or killed was marginally greater than in 2011. (See chart)
The five districts of Garo hills and parts of West Khasi Hills and South West Khasi Hills, where the GNLA has been active, witnessed various militancy-related incidents.
From gunning down of security forces to kidnapping of civilians, especially businessmen, for ransom, rebel activities have continued unabated though Meghalaya police, commandos from the state’s Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team and the CRPF’s Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), have been continuously engaged to neutralise the outfit.
Over the last three years, the GNLA has also gunned down civilians in Garo hills on suspicion of being police “informers”.
In view of the rise in its illegal activities, the Centre declared the GNLA, which claims that it is fighting for a separate state of “Garoland”, as a “terrorist organisation” last year.
In the Northeast, there were 1,025 incidents in 2012, in which 3,562 extremists either surrendered or were arrested or killed. At least 14 security personnel were also killed, while 97 civilians died.
The report says Assam and Manipur continue to account for the bulk of the incidents of violence in the region.
In Nagaland and Meghalaya, violence was higher than the previous year, while Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim remained peaceful, the report says.
In Arunachal Pradesh, barring a few incidents, there was a general atmosphere of peace, the report adds.