Residents of Rongjeng take part in a rally on Wednesday. Picture by Saidul Khan
Tura, Nov. 11: Meghalaya police today arrested two top GNLA cadres from a village in East Garo Hills district.
The outfit's "area commander" Chekan Marak, 35, alias Bawang, along with another cadre, Ronseng Marak, were arrestedfrom a house - where the duo were taking shelter - at 5.30am based on information that they were hiding inside a house in Dobu village.
"Chekan is a senior cadre of the outfit belonging to the second batch and was a senior commander. He was involved in many heinous crimes# and terrorist activities, including thrashing of villagers in Pakregre in 2014," the superintendent of police, East Garo Hills, Davis Marak, said.
Chekan was involved in the killing of GNLA cadre Riknang Sangma, alias Wanding, he said.
The police claimed that Ronseng was operating under the command of GNLA's "deputy commander-in-chief" Rupanto Marak. The SP said they were hiding at Dobu for the past two weeks and the police had been monitoring the movements of the duo.
During interrogation, the two GNLA cadres revealed that the outfit had split into smaller groups as police operations in South Garo Hills and East Garo Hills districts had intensified.
Residents of Rongjeng and Songsak in East Garo Hills today took out rallies protesting against Meghalaya High Court's order seeking Centre's intervention to consider clamping of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Garo hills.
At least 2,000 people attended the rally at Songsak and nearly 6,000 at Rongjeng. The activists spearheading the protests welcomed the Centre's decision to move the Supreme Court on the High Court directive proposing army operations in Garo hills.
They sought a CBI or an NIA probe into the rise in militant activities in Garo hills.
"There should be a thorough inquiry to find out why militancy has been spreading in the region. We have never had a CBI probe in Garo hills and this is something that needs to be done to pinpoint responsibility," the president of the Songsak People's Forum, Jayanta A. Sangma, said at the rally at Songsak.
"The AFSPA will not bring peace, but instead create a situation where things will go out of control and that is why we are opposing it," the general secretary of the Songsak unit of the Garo Students' Union (GSU), B.N. Marak, said. At least five prominent citizens' organisations, including the GSU and the All A'chik Youth Federation, are spearheading the protest.
A conglomeration of activists from Garo hills will be in Delhi on November 15 to meet central leadership and brief them about law and order in Garo hills.
On Monday, citizens' organisations urged chief minister Mukul Sangma to initiate talks with the Centre and not allow clamping of the army act in Garo hills.