Garo militant leader ready for talks, surrender


Shillong : Police officer-turned-militant Champion R. Sangma Friday said he is ready to surrender before union Home Minister P. Chidambaram but not before the Meghalaya government.

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“I will never surrender before the Meghalaya government, but I am ready to surrender before the government of India and that too before Chidambaram,” Sangma, the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) chairman, told IANS over the phone.

Sangma, a former deputy superintendent of police, had deserted the Meghalaya police and floated the GNLA due to alleged harassment by his seniors.

“The GNLA would sit for talks only with the centre and not with the state government. If we received a request from the union home minister, then only we will consider,” he said.

The outfit cadres are deserters, mostly from the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) and the Liberation of Achik Elite Force (LAEF).

The militant group formed in 2007 suffered a major setback Saturday when its founder and general secretary Novembirth Marak was arrested from Siliguri railway station in West Bengal Saturday, dealing a blow to the group’s network.

The security forces busted a GNLA training camp at Durama Hill range in Garo Hills Wednesday and recovered a machine gun, an Uzi sub-machine gun, grenades, bombs, a laptop and incriminating documents.

Asked why he floated a militant outfit, Sangma, who was trained as a police officer at the North Eastern Police Academy in Meghalaya, said he was “harassed by my seniors”.

“I have submitted many representations to the government and the Meghalaya police DGP (director general of police), but they never look into my grievances. So I decided to float the organisation,” he said.

Asked about the GNLA demands, he said the group was only seeking a “Garoland” within the ambit of the Indian constitution.

The GNLA is also not asking for a greater Garoland carved out of Bangladesh, Assam, Ri-Bhoi and West Khasi Hills districts of Meghalaya, like the ANVC, he said.

The ANVC is under a tripartite ceasefire agreement with the central and the state governments.

The rebel group operating in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region is fighting for creation of Garoland Territorial Council.