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New rebel group in hills

Tura/Shillong, Feb. 11: Police in Meghalaya have claimed that a new outfit — United People’s Revolutionary Alliance (UPRA) — has devised strategies to unleash terror in the Garo hills.

This new development has come to light after yesterday’s attack on a government officer at Rongdotchi, near Baghmara in South Garo Hills. The officer’s car was hit, though he managed to escape unharmed.

The police said just two days ago, they had raided a militant hideout at Rongdotchi and recovered a letterhead in the name of UPRA. The outfit is a conglomeration of several groups, including the breakaway faction of A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC-B), A’chik National Liberation Army (ANLA) and United A’chik Liberation Army (UALA).

Police have also recovered a shotgun, pistol, laptop, mobile phone, rubber stamp of ANVC-B, UALA, ANLA and the official letterhead of ANVC-B from Rongdotchi.

The police claimed that UPRA is the brainchild of the ANVC-B, which is holding peace talks with the government for negotiating the “agreed text for settlement”, signed on January 5, 2013.

“The new outfit has been formed by the ANVC-B to carry out unlawful activities, including kidnapping and extortion in the coal rich belt of Garo hills,” said police.

The police said the ANVC-B is using the name of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) to carry on with their unlawful activities, as they want to defame the GNLA.

“The ANVC-B and the GNLA cannot come together. They have ideological differences,” police said. However, the police said the ANVC-B has an understanding with GNLA’s new faction, led by Reading Sangma, who is lending support in the formation of the new outfit, UPRA.

Police said most outfits are now concentrated in South Garo Hills district from Baghmara to Nongalbibra.

In the wake of the grim law and order situation, an additional two companies of CRPF has been deployed in South Garo Hills district. The companies will arrive tomorrow at Baghmara and Nongalbibra.

Another company of CRPF will be deployed in Williamnagar, East Garo Hills.

In view of the recent increase in militant activities in the Garo Hills, Meghalaya home minister Roshan Warjri held a high-level review meeting with top police officers at the state secretariat in Shillong today. Sources said at the meeting instructions were given to the police to beef up security in the Garo Hills.

However, the government is of the view that apart from the deployment of security forces to tackle the militants, other measures like development activities are required to be undertaken in the Garo hills.“It (the situation in the Garo hills) is a challenge for the government, and it is its duty to ensure that the citizens are safe,” Meghalaya additional chief secretary Barkos Warjri told reporters.

While stating that force was not the only means to tackle the Garo hills problem, he said it was important to intervene through development and social measures.

“This will ensure that confidence is built and people should not be cowed down by unlawful activities,” Warjri said. He also said the government is negotiating with the willing militant outfits to ensure peace.

FIR filed: The residents of Chibinang in West Garo Hills today filed an FIR against Sulaiman Rehman at Phulbari police station for allegedly raping a mentally-challenged woman. The 35-year-old woman was raped in Bekongre village, near Chibinang, about 120km from here on Friday.

Police have registered a case against Rehman, 30, for the rape. According to the FIR, Rehman raped the woman when she was bathing in a stream. A medical examination of the woman was conducted today.

Rehman, a resident of Chibinang, is absconding.