Meghalaya rebel killed in Bangla brawl

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  • Published 1.09.11

New Delhi, Aug. 31: The commander-in-chief of the Meghalaya-based Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), Bobby Reagan Marwein, was killed in a brawl in Bangladesh this week. Marwein was apparently not in the best of "financial health", sources told The Telegraph, nor was he on the best of terms with the criminals in Dhaka.

"It is this that is believed to have led to his killing," said a government source. Marwein's death will lead to a marked reduction in extortion in Khasi and Jaintia hills, he said. With Marwein gone, the government now has to deal with another "irritant", the Garo National Liberation Army, which is also based out of Bangladesh.

The HNLC was formed as a result of a 1992 split in the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council, the first militant group in Meghalaya. It was proscribed on November 16, 2000, but is no longer a banned organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

There were chances of the group talking with both the Centre and the state but in the run-up to the Independence Day, HNLC cadres sneaked into Khasi hills to disturb celebrations, sources said.

With the Meghalaya police hot on Marwein’s heels, the militant leader was hobnobbing with old contacts in Dhaka.

Last week, he was seen in the company of a local gang in Dhaka, a source said. His association with the "undesirable elements" could have been to either ask for help for cross-border operations or simply more time to settle bad debts, the source added.

Marwein was the strongest hand in the HNLC and also the face of the outfit in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills ever since "chairman" Julius Dorphang surrendered on July 24, 2007. Dorphang, a moderate, had surrendered to then chief minister D.D. Lapang after a spat with Marwein and "general secretary" Chesterfield Thangkiew.

Thangkiew is the only HNLC leader who remains in Bangladesh where most of the outfit's remaining cadres live.

Marwein's absence means that Thangkiew will have to explore options of returning to Meghalaya.