Shillong/Tura July 8: Nine cadres of the A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK), a militant outfit allegedly on an extortion drive, were arrested today from East Garo Hills district.
This was one of the major arrests made in a single day by Meghalaya police.
Acting on a tip-off, East Garo Hills police first arrested two of the group’s cadres near the Williamnagar forest gate, district superintendent of police Davis R. Marak said over phone.
“The two cadres revealed that their comrades were present in other parts of Williamnagar. Upon their revelation, we arrested another three from the Williamnagar supermarket area,” Marak said.
Another cadre was arrested from Chidakgre area, on the outskirts of Williamnagar, the district headquarters of East Garo Hills, around 310km from Shillong.
The police learnt that some other ASAK cadres were proceeding towards Rongjeng on a motorcycle.
“The information was passed on to the Rongjeng police who managed to arrest the trio,” Marak said. Rongjeng is 35km from Williamnagar.
The arrested cadres are Merak Sangma alias Suangre, Minibirth Sangma, Dinesh Marak alias Blackboard, Pagal Sangma alias Balwa, Walman Sangma, Isak Sangma, Selbi Arengh, Sabat Marak and Rikran Momin.
Merak is the self-styled “area commander” of the eastern command while Dinesh is the self-styled “commander” of the group’s “special command”. Merak and Dinesh were arrested from Chidakgre and Rongjeng, respectively.
From the cadres, police recovered three pistols, a wireless set, and demand notes. Marak said the cadres, who were in their twenties, belonged to different parts of the Garo hills region.
According to Marak, it appeared that the cadres were on a mission to extort from Williamnagar and Rongjeng markets.
The ASAK had allegedly served demand notes to market committees, a road construction company and small businessmen in Williamnagar area. The demand ranges from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 crore, police said.
Marak said most of the ASAK cadres are based in the South Garo Hills, and its cadre strength could be around 100.
The police team recovered arms and ammunition along with knives and demand notes of the ASAK group. Altogether three automatic pistols, two knives, 25 rounds of bullets, mobile phones, SIM cards, wireless sets, demand notes and some money were recovered from the rebels.
ASAK was formed by a former Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) leader Reding T. Sangma. He had served as the “finance secretary” of the organisation. In fact, Merak had also been with the GNLA earlier, police said.
The body of an unidentified man was today recovered by villagers in South West Garo Hills district. The highly decomposed body was found at Tuchagre, very close to Gambegre in West Garo Hills.
A police team received the information but incessant rain prevented them from going to the spot immediately.
A team was despatched today and the body was brought to Tura for post-mortem.
“The place can only be covered on foot. The body was brought to Ampati,” said superintendent of police, South West Garo Hills, R. Muthu.
“His hands were tied behind his back and mouth was tied up with a piece of cloth. We believe he was killed,” said Muthu.The post-mortem was conducted at Tura civil hospital. An investigation is on.