Indian police arrest GNLA supremo Champion Sangma from Meghalaya border

By IANS, Shillong July 30, 2012:

The outlawed Garo National Liberation Army’s (GNLA) chief Champion R. Sangma was arrested Monday near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya, police said.

Sangma, whose outfit is fighting for a separate Garoland, was arrested from Umkrem Pyrwdiwah area in East Khasi Hills district, about 80 km from Shillong.

“Champion Sangma was arrested this (Monday) afternoon based on intelligence inputs about his movement in the villages bordering Bangladesh,” state police chief N. Ramachandran told IANS.

The GNLA supremo is wanted by police for masterminding several crimes, including killings and extortion in insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.

It was reported that Sangma had been arrested by police in Bangladesh in November 2010.

However, the Meghalaya police chief said it was not clear if the rebel leader was pushed back into India like other top separatist rebels of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

“We have not interrogated him and we don’t know whether he was pushed back but we arrested him from the area based on intelligence about his presence in the area,” Ramachandran said.

“It is a prize catch for Meghalaya Police and we are hopeful with his arrest we will be able to unravel the ins and outs of the GNLA,” he added.

Champion, a former deputy superintendent of police, deserted the police force and floated the GNLA in November 2009.

The outfit, which had been outlawed by the Indian government, forged an operational alliance with the ULFA and the NDFB, which provided it access to sophisticated arms and ammunition, and enabled it to unleash a reign of terror in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills.

It also forged an alliance with the Bangladesh-based rebel group, A’chik Special Dragon Party.

Over 35 people, including security personnel, have been killed in the Garo Hills in the last one year by GNLA rebels, who number around 100.


The Daily Star

Bangladesh on Monday “pushed back” Champion R Sangma, co-founder and chairman of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), to India.

The Times of India, a leading Indian newspaper, reported that Champion, a former deputy superintendent of police-turned-militant, had been arrested at an apartment in Dhaka on intelligence provided by India.

He was kept under custody of the Bangladesh authorities before he was handed over to the Indian authorities on the Indo-Bangla border, the report added.

“He is in the custody of Meghalaya police,” Director General of Police N Ramachandran confirmed the newspaper.

However, Kamal Uddin Ahmed, additional secretary (political) of home ministry, told The Daily Star that they don’t know anything about the arrest.

There is no extradition treaty between the two countries.

Garo hills-based GNLA was declared a terror organisation in January by Indian government for killing security personnel and civilians along with committing abductions and extortions.

The report also read Champion was presented in the court of the chief judicial magistrate, which placed him on a 15-day remand.

Champion co-founded GNLA in 2010, it added.


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