Meghalaya Police launch crackdown on NSCN ultras

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Shillong, Mar 30 (UNI) Meghalaya police have launched flush-out operations against the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim-IM (NSCN-IM) and Liberation A'chik Elite Force(LEAF) militants in the coal-belt areas of West Khasi Hills district.

At least nine LAEF ultras and symphathisers were arrested and arms and ammunition seized, since the police launched their crackdown on militants, with back-up of Special Operation Team.

Both the militants groups had served extortion notes to coal mine owners, coal exporters to Bangladesh and truck-owners.

Borsora is the second coal trading point between India and Bangladesh, about 200 km from here, and is also known as the hotbed of LAEF and NSCN (IM), besides the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, which have its base in Bangladesh.

''Our combing operation against the militants is going on in full-swing. Our mission is to clear the area and to put them in our backfoot,'' West Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police H Kharkrang told UNI here today by telephone from Nongstoin.

The coffers of both the militant outfits have almost dried up and they are trying to replenish it by extorting money from the coal exporters, he said, adding that the police is keeping a strict vigil on coal exporters to ensure that none of them comply with the extortion demands of the militants.

''The operation has boosted our morale, with frequent breakthrough (arrest of militants). We are expecting more positive results in the days to come,'' Mr Kharkrang said.

The LAEF, a relatively new militant outfit, which is believed to have close links with the NSCN (I-M) is fighting for a ''separate independent A'chik State'' for the tribal Garos residing in Garo Hills areas of Meghalaya.

Late last year, the NSCN-IM had reportedly provided the LAEF with as many as 15 AK-47s, 25 automatic M20 pistols and three highly powerful Universal Machine Guns, besides over a hundred hand grenades to carry out their operations in Garo Hills.

The nascent militant outfit had set up its operational camp inside the Balpakram National Park, with the help of the NSCN (I-M) to impart guerilla warfare tactics to new LAEF recruits.

UNI RRK LL/SRC AKJ BD1500

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