Shillong, Oct. 30: Police gunned down five militants of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) in an encounter in the heart of a Shillong locality tonight.
The shootout at Risa Colony occurred around 7.15pm when a police team tried to intercept a Maruti van that was speeding by with the militants in it. All five militants were killed and two policemen wounded in the exchange of fire.
East Khasi Hills superintendent of police A.R. Mawthoh said the five militants were the same ones who had gone to the residence of the chief executive member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, H.S. Shylla, a few months ago to assassinate him.
Mawthoh said they entered Meghalaya from Bangladesh to carry out HNLC commander-in-chief Bobby Marwein’s order to eliminate Shylla and the outfit’s former chairman, Julius Dorphang.
Shylla has been vocal on the issue of uranium mining, saying that the state should go ahead with it. This ostensibly angered the HNLC, but the police foiled the attempt to assassinate him.
The outfit intended to kill Dorphang for deserting it and surrendering in July.
One of the militants killed in the encounter was Safir Hashah. The identities of the rest could not be immediately confirmed.
The police said that the militants had been moving from one locality to another over the past week. Their presence was confirmed by surrendered HNLC militant Augustine Mawthoh earlier today.
The police found AK-47 rifles, shotguns and grenades on the slain militants.
Mawthoh said the HNLC leaders in Bangladesh was sending their men to Shillong not only to eliminate specific targets, but also rebuild the outfit’s extortion network.
The HNLC’s extortion machinery broke down with the arrest of several members of its finance wing earlier in the year.
The district police chief said the militant group’s primary aim was to prove that “it is still active”.
Over 150 HNLC members have surrendered so far. The biggest setback to the outfit was Dorphang’s surrender.