The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gun racket on drug kingpin résumé

Shillong, May 24: Sang Niang Thanga, the on-the-run kingpin of the drug racket busted in the ground floor of former CBI official Upen Biswas’s house and Meghalaya police’s most wanted, also dabbled in gun-running, supplying arms to several banned militant outfits of the Northeast as well as the Calcutta underworld.

The Meghalaya police today claimed that 30-year-old Thanga, believed to have fled to Myanmar, was wanted in several criminal cases. Besides helping militant outfits like the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), he also supplied arms to the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation and gangsters in Calcutta.

The force is contemplating sending a team to Calcutta to investigate Thanga’s activities. Additional commissioner of custom’s and central excise G. Panmei said “Calcutta was Thanga’s operating base” since 1999. He conducted his operations in Thailand and China, two countries from where he was importing arms into the Northeast, from the city.

A senior police officer, heading most counter-insurgency operations in the east Khasi hills, today said Thanga supplied at least “half-a-dozen AK series rifles to the HNLC”. He said they have picked up “bits and pieces of information” which trace Thanga’s connection to banned outfits like the Achik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC), the Peoples’ Revolutionary Army of Kangliepak, Hmar militant groups and also to the KLO.

The state police had been “looking for Thanga” but were not aware he had rented a house at Lumbasuk Nongthymmai in Shillong. “Only after seeing his photograph today, I realised this is the man that the police wanted so desperately,” the police officer added. A hardcore HNLC member, Joseph Syiemlieh, arrested last year with 150 rounds of AK ammunition from Mawprem locality, had led the police to Thanga’s residence here. The militant confessed he had purchased ammunition from Thanga.

The officer said Thanga “is on the hit-list” of not only Meghalaya, but of several other states.

Thanga’s wife Gloria Remi and another Mizo, identified as Zongliana, have been kept under “police care” and are being constantly interrogated. The customs office in Shillong filed an FIR against Thanga’s wife and Zongliana after which Madanriting police took them into custody yesterday.

The officer in charge of Madanriting police station, Kamal Chandra Das, said the two have not been arrested but they cannot travel without police permission.

During interrogation, Thanga’s wife gave away that she was born in Myanmar, Das said. The police are probing the case and Remi could be persecuted under the foreigners’ regulation Act, he added.

“There are no other cases against her and she may not be involved in the drug trade or any other illegal business with Thanga,” Das said, adding that documents seized from Thanga’s house indicated that the drug kingpin is also a “Myanmerese national”.

Certificates showing that Thanga was also born in Myanmar are with the police. According to a seized immigration application, Thanga was born at Falam in Myanmar.

The police believe Thanga was using different names to hoodwink them. Other documents seized by the police include disembarkment receipts to Sri Lanka, immigration application to the US and other travel documents within the Northeast.

Remi had told The Telegraph yesterday that the couple had shifted to Nongthymmai in the later half of 2000. Alu Godam, where they previously stayed, had “water problems” which prompted them to shift, she had added.

Sources, however, said Thanga and his wife were asked to leave by the people of Alu Godam following complaints that he was “doing illegal business”. Thanga had been caught by customs a couple on occasions earlier for illegally selling foreign goods. The police officer said Thanga was booked under the wildlife prevention Act, too, for keeping elephant meat in his house in Shillong. The case is in the court of the district magistrate, Das said.

Thanga’s rented house at Nongthymmai, which belongs to one C. Pala, was used to store arms and other contraband. Thanga also used the two-roomed dingy house in the first floor of a three-storeyed building to make bonzang (dried bull penis) and aphrodisiacs which were being sold in Mayanmar, Nepal, China and most countries in Southeast Asia.

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