SHILLONG: A day after former GNLA top notch, Rakkam D Shira was shot dead by GNLA rebels in his residence, the fear of being the next target have penetrated into the minds of the surrendered cadres of the banned militant outfit, GNLA.
The Meghalaya police on Monday failed to provide protection to Rakkam when he left for his village and defended their stance by claiming that they were unaware of the decision of the former GNLA cadre to leave the protected camp.
“The Police didn’t know about Rakkam’s decision to move out of the camp, it was a mis-communication on both side,” a senior police officer said adding that GNLA commander-in-chief Sohan D Shira might have kept an open eye and study Rakkam’s every movement.
Wiping their hands clean, the police source said “Protection is being doubled and we try as much as we can to ensure that no surrendered cadres move out of the protected camp without prior information,” the police source informed adding that “In as far as liberty is concerned, we don’t want to treat them like prisoners, which is why, they get access to everything like phones and other devices, and what’s conversation they had, or how the matter went out of hand, we don’t know,” the police said.
It may be mentioned that recently, Sohan had made public through social media his intention to target those leaders and cadres who abandoned his outfit. He had also announced the formation of an “eraser unit” to target GNLA deserters.
Last month, Sohan led a group of rebels to Rongsak village on the Tura-Williamnagar road and executed a former cadre who deserted the organization for another group and had surrendered to police in December.
Now fear looms large amongst the surrendered cadres even as they doubt police protection following the bloodbath on Monday. Surrendered cadres have now started to raise questions on the assurance given by the government in as far as rehab centres and relief packages for the surrendered cadres are concerned..
It may be noted that the only senior cadre who is still engaged with Sohan is Baichung, who is currently leading a group of rebels in a different direction, away from Sohan’s group.
The other senior cadres who held important posts in the outfit have all surrendered before the police this year. To name a few—Rakkam (who was shot dead yesterday), Sengrak M Sangma alias Ranggam, Pilliport D Shira alias Rakban, Keding N Sangma alias Serejing, Chicko A Sangma @ Indian, GNLA publicity secretary Anurag S Sangma alias Garo Mande, besides others.
However, allaying surrendered cadres’ fear of being hunted down by Sohan, Police have assured full protection to the former cadres adding that operations are on to track down every last cadre.
“With Sohan left with only a number of fresh cadres numbering 30, the police are on the move to hunt them down before they managed to launch a revenge attack on their former cadres,” the police source said adding that this morning (October 18), two teams of security forces are out for an operation.
Stating that in the last week, security forces carried out 22 operations in the thick jungles of Durama, GNLA cadres were unable to re-group and initiate plan of actions. Just last week, police managed to bust the GNLA camp in South Garo Hills, and killed 2 GNLA cadres in an encounter.
In as far as Sohan’s intention to convince his surrendered cadres to come back to the outfit, Police source informed that “Six to seven cadres who went back to the outfit never did surrender before the police, they were infact, members of the GNLA splinter groups.”
Citing the problems to wipe out the GNLA for good as claimed by the police in six months, the source said “The thick jungle and the geographical demography of Durama is unpredictable and taking shelter of the thick jungles, GNLA rebels are being able to move easily,” adding that lack of communication and bad road condition is another drawback for the security forces to nip the problem in the bud.