Meghalaya: Is the GNLA really re-forming?
GNLA militants

Tura: There has been a sense of fear in the minds of locals after the recent leak of an internal memo which hinted at a resurgence of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA). In the latest, revelation of names of some GNLA members is making residents ponder if this is a ‘cheap stunt’ or if the rebel group is really regrouping.

Sohan D Shira led GNLA was arguably the most dreaded militant outfit to ever grace the shores of Garo Hills. The outfit, during its prime, was so powerful that not one road across Garo Hills felt safe for anyone.

After the death of Sohan and the surrender of most of the outfit’s top members, those that remained have either gone into hibernation or have completely gone incognito. Most that surrendered have begun to have normal lives with their families and are looking at piecing together their broken dreams.

The leaked memo:

A sensational WT message dated May 11, by an officer of the rank of a DSP in West Garo Hills (WGH) was leaked. The message said that a former member of the outfit claimed the reformation of the group and the recruitment of about 500 youths. It claimed that the new recruits were taking training in Nagaland or in neighbouring Myanmar.

This caused an immediate outcry with residents of the state seeking confirmation of such development.

The fear amongst residents was that even if the outfit was not regrouping, such sensational news would open the doors for extortionists to use the name of the outfit to demand money from the populace. This fear has been all encompassing.

A ground report done earlier showed that the claims made by the police source about the outfit reforming provided questionable numbers and the names of the areas from where the apparent recruitment took place has not seen anyone not being accounted for.

The new leader:

Two days ago, a post by a local news page once again resurfaced the talks. It claimed that the GNLA had indeed recruited 500 youths who were being trained in a secret place near Rengdim in East Khasi Hills.

The outfit, it claimed, is now led by one Jingjang D Shira, whose facial features were not disclosed. Photographs however showed the other person who stood beside the new leader. Two other faces were also shared as new members.

Jingjang, as per reports, was the chief executive director of the outfit while the other person in the photos sent was identified as Nengsrang Sangma. File photos of the group’s former chief Sohan among others were also shared. This was done as if to prove that their claims were genuine.

However, what was stark was the absolute lack of any arms or ammunition or anything to prove that recruits were indeed being trained.

The claims made by those that posted the photos have been rubbished by not only the police but a former highly placed member of the outfit as well, who wished to remain anonymous.

“This is a cheap stunt. If they are training, where are their arms and ammunition? Are they training with sticks? Even the camouflage they are wearing is not real. The photos they have sent are not even from Garo Hills and how come they don’t know that Rengdim is in West Khasi Hills and not East. Someone is really trying to rake up the GNLA name for reasons only known to them,” informed a former GNLA member.

Meanwhile, when informed on the matter, the DGP of Meghalaya, LR Bishnoi said that the matter is being investigated.

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Highly placed police sources from Garo Hills rubbished the claims of those that have posted the messages on the local news website.

“We have maintained that no one is unaccounted for in Shallang, Nangalbibra and Jadi (the places from where the outfit claimed to have recruited youths). 500 is a huge number and such numbers would stand out. This is definitely someone trying to use the name of the GNLA for nefarious purposes,” added a highly placed police source while adding that the matter is being looked at very closely.   

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