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ANVC outfits squabble

- Militants pose serious challenge to security forces, admits Meghalaya CM

Shillong, Dec. 16: A tiff between the breakaway faction of the A’chik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC) and its parent body has surfaced after the former alleged that the latter had set off an “ambush” on Saturday evening. It also cautioned the Meghalaya government from arming “surrendered” militants.

A statement issued by Rangdo R. Marak, “joint secretary” of the ANVC (B), said the ANVC had set an “ambush” on the ANVC (B) leaders at Chandmari near Tura, about 323km from here, on Saturday evening. The Ahaia winter festival concluded the same day. “Two vehicles belonging to ANVC cadres were on silent pursuit on Saturday. They (ANVC) are using newly-recruited cadres whose faces are unknown for the unwarranted activities. The ANVC (B) cadres detected their movement and hastily escorted the leaders to the camp,” Marak alleged.

“This is not fair as consequences could be fatal. The ANVC must stop targeting our leaders, else peace will fail to make an impact in the Garo hills. We are silent on many ANVC activities, including threats to our family members. Provocation such as these could bring down our efforts to bring peace in Garo hills,” he further added.

At the same time, he asked the ANVC cadres to “stop hunting us” or “we will be forced to retaliate for which we will not be responsible”.

Moreover, he said the ANVC must control its cadre, one of whom has been identified as Sasan, from making “threat calls to our family members”. At the same time, Marak said the surrender of ANVC (B) cadre Gideon G. Momin alias Jangsan of North Garo Hills was a “big relief” to the people.

“He joined the mainstream giving up arms. We appeal that public must rest assured that he will not involve himself in any untoward activities or use gunpower as he did for personal benefit, maligning the name of ANVC (B). Once surrendered means surrendered and the government should not arm them,” Marak added.

Gideon, an “area commander” in North Garo Hills, had surrendered on Friday in Tura.

“We are, however, sceptical of the ANVC involvement in the surrender. The government must ensure that Gideon is not armed again to collect money from National Highway 62 for the ANVC,” Marak said.

The 195km national highway originates at Damra in Assam and ends at Dalu in Meghalaya, with only 5km falling in Assam.

Marak alleged that Sasan has been making “open collection” from Nongalbibra and moving freely with arms, which were never deposited to the government.

“If this is a new trend to attract armed rebels, then it will be a good business opportunity for all who want to make easy money,” the ANVC (B) leader said.

However, when contacted over phone, the ANVC publicity secretary Arist Sengsrang Sangma denied the allegations made by the breakaway faction, and termed them as “baseless”.

“The allegations are baseless and we do not have any intention to ambush them,” Sangma said.

While speaking at the chief ministers’ conference on internal security earlier this year, chief minister Mukul Sangma had made a mention about the ANVC (B), too, as one of the outfits operating in the western region of the state.

According to the chief minister, during a meeting of the joint monitoring group (JMG) held in September 2011 in New Delhi, various issues concerning shifting of camps, security threat to the ANVC cadres from the GNLA, security of ANVC leadership, and others were discussed.

“During the deliberations, the ANVC representative had officially admitted for the first time before the JMG about the presence of a large number of ANVC cadres with weapons who had not come overground to be part of the suspension of operations (SoO) in 2004,” Sangma had said.

He had also said the emergence of this group posed a “serious challenge to the security forces engaged in anti-militancy operations”.