From Our Correspondent, Shillong News | Tura, Feb 28, 2018:
A cadre of the proscribed Garo National Liberation Council (GNLA) who was with the outfit’s commander-in-chief Sohan D Shira the day he was killed, surrendered before the East Garo Hills Police here on Wednesday.
The cadre identified as Panseng R. Sangma hailing from Cherangre village was recruited into the outfit only recently on February 2 this year. He surrendered before the SP of Williamnagar today at 4.30 pm without arms.
According to the SP Ringrang Momin, the surrenderee is not a hardcore cadre, in fact he was made to clean up after the senior cadres, cook and wash clothes. On interrogation, the cadre revealed that he was with Sohan D Shira the day he was killed.
According to Momin, the surrendered cadre, Panseng informed that Sohan had taken all the 11 remaining cadres of the outfit including ULFA’s second in command Drishti Rajkhowa along with him that day.
The district police chief further stated that the surrendered cadre claimed that when they reached atop a hill, Rajkhowa and the others wanted to go downhill for a bath while Sohan insisted on staying back along with Panseng, While they were sitting together, Panseng later wanted to relief himself and went to the jungle to do so. It was then that he heard all the firing and out of fear, he took off and escaped.
Panseng also told the police that he was not aware of the IED attack in Williamnagar that killed NCP candidate Johnathone N Sangma and three others. He claimed that he was not informed of their plan and was just told that the 4 senior cadres would be heading out for a mission. It was only later that he came to know about the incident.
When asked bout the reason behind his decision to lay down arms, Momin said the surrenderee revealed that he was tired of moving from one place to another adding that it was tough following the outfit while at the same time, being made to carry heavy baggage.
When asked why he joined the outfit in the first place, Panseng said (according to the police) that Sohan had taken Panseng along with him when he visited his village.
The surrendered cadre also revealed that till the time, he was with the outfit while Sohan was alive, there were only 11 cadres left. Whether that number has gone up or down, this, he said, he has no idea because he had left the outfit by then.
However, questions are being raised on the timing and alibi given by the surrendered cadre even as concern citizens suspect the tale to be a cooked-up story and a ready-made and false alibi provided to Panseng to wipe out traces of any ‘fake-encounter’.