Shillong, Dec 16: Two people were killed and a rebel of the breakaway faction of the A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC-B) was arrested in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills, bordering Bangladesh, police said Monday.
“Two people were gunned down by GNLA (Garo National Liberation Army) rebels at Meka Adu area near Gausapara last (Sunday) night allegedly for extorting money in the name of the GNLA,” Davis R. Marak, the district police chief of South Garo Hills, told IANS.
However, the police have denied the two dead men — Semion M. Marak and and Sengwal D. Sangma — were extortionists.
The GNLA, one of the five Garo rebel groups, is fighting for a separate Garoland in the western part of Meghalaya.
In another incident, the state police Monday arrested a hardcore rebel of the ANVC-B, a splinter group of the ANVC, which has been observing a tripartite ceasefire with the central and Meghalaya governments for nine years.
“We have arrested a hardcore ANVC-B rebel Tengseng T. Sangma from Gausapara (in South Garo Hills) while trying to serve extortion notes to coal exporters in the area,” Marak said.
Police said extortion notes of ANVC-B and United A’chik Liberation Army were seized from Sangma’s possession.
Gausapara, an international coal trading centre between India and Bangladesh, is about 450 km from the state capital Shillong.
The coal trading season in Meghalaya has just commenced with the onset of dry winter months.
During winter, various rebel outfits and coal mafia become active in the coal mining areas when extortion demands running into millions of rupees are made on the coal traders.
Police have been asking them not to shell out the money but instead inform law-enforcing authorities.
Meghalaya has a total coal reserve of 640 million tonnes.
There are deposits of the black gold as coal is often referred to in the districts of South Garo Hills, West Jaintia Hills and South West Khasi Hills in the state.