AK-56s, pistols among huge haul of weapons seized from GNLA in Meghalaya

Nearly one and half months after the self-styled chief of proscribed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), in an encounter, the police in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region on Sunday seized a huge cache of weapons belonging to the outfit.

The arms haul from Chachatgre village near Williamnagar, the headquarters of East Garo Hills district, included some from near a pig sty others from underneath a banana plantation.

Other recoveries were made from different places from a jungle near Donrengkigre village.

The military hardware included two AK-56 rifles, a light machine gun and an INSAS rifle, 30 pistols, live ammunition, and magazines. Police also found walkie-talkie sets, batteries, wires and circuits along with the weapons and ammunition.

Police zeroed in on the weapons following the interrogation of five persons with links to GNLA. Most of the weapons are believed to have belonged to Shira, who hid them at different locations for use at later stages.

“Most of the weapons were hidden by Shira himself and only a handful of people knew about their whereabouts. Our investigations and inputs from some GNLA cadres helped in their recovery,” said a senior police officer requesting not to be named.

Meghalaya’s most wanted man Shira was killed on February 24 in East Garo Hills in an encounter with the police.

The GNLA was suspected to have carried out a bomb attack on February 18, which killed Jonathone N Sangma, the Nationalist Congress Party candidate from the Williamnagar assembly seat.

Election to the assembly seat was countermanded following Sangma’s death and a manhunt launched to nab Shira. Polling in rest of the state took place on February 27. Election to Williamnagar seat will now be held on April 27.

Apart from the ones recovered on Sunday, police have dug out many weapons belonging to GNLA from different parts of the region. Efforts are still underway to locate all the contraband.

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Formed in 2009 with the aim of creating a separate ‘Garoland’ in the western parts of Meghalaya, the GNLA was once estimated to have round 200-250 foot soldiers. It operated mainly from the coal-rich Garo Hills of Meghalaya.