The encounter took place on later Monday evening in Karbi Anglong Credit: Representational image

Guwahati: Self-styled chairman of UPRF (United People’s Liberation Front) Martin Guite was killed in an encounter with Assam police in a village in Manja, in Karbi Anglong district on Monday evening.

Confirming about the encounter, GP Singh, ADGP (Law & Order), Assam Police tweeted, “Late last evening, Martin Guite, SS Chairman of UPRF, an insurgent group active in Karbi Anglong, was wounded and later declared dead in exchange of fire with team of @assampolice in Manja PS area of Karbi Anglong.”

UPRF is a Zomi group of Paites, Guites, Vaipheis and assorted Zomi tribes of Churachandpur district in Manipur.

The outfit was formed by ZRA (Zomi Revolutionary Army) in 1993 with NSCN-IM help to fight Kukis in Churachandpur, sources in Assam Police claimed.

The sources further alleged that the ZRA has been using its Paite cadres to poach rhinos for horns since early 2000 and its strongman Thaghtaum Thomte, who allegedly owns a studio in New Lamka, Churachandpur, controls 70% of the rhino horn trade.

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Meanwhile, in a clarification, ZRA has denied its involvement in rhino poaching. It said, “It may be made known to all that ZRA has never abetted and supported rhino poaching in the past, present and will never do so in the future.”

Further, it added, “It is also factually incorrect to say that ZRA was formed by NSCN (IM) to fight Kuki in Churachandpur, Manipur. ZRA, indeed, is a Zomi Army formed to fight the noble cause of reunifying the Zo people with the active and unstinted support from its people.”

It reiterated that, “ZRA is fully committed to the cause it stands for and will never indulge in petty and illegal businesses like rhino poaching.”

The organisation has also denied connections with United People’s Liberation Front (UPRF) wherein its leader Martin Guite was killed in an encounter by Assam Police on Monday evening at Manja in Karbi Anglong district of Assam.

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