MILITANT GROUPS' PROFILE

1. Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC)

he Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) was formed in December 1995 with an objective of carving out a homeland for the Garo tribe comprising the present districts of Garo Hills in Meghalaya and a large part of the Kamrup and the Goalpara districts in adjoining Assam. The Government of India proscribed the outfit on November 16, 2000. Three and half years later, on July 23, 2004, the outfit signed a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India. The cease-fire agreement with the ANVC was extended for an indefinite period since July 23, 2008. On 24 September 2014, two factions of the Garo militant outfit A’chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) signed a Memorandum of Settlement with the Central Government and Meghalaya Government at New Delhi.

The ANVC is headed by Dilash R. Marak, who is the ‘Chairman’ of the outfit. Jerome Momin is the outfit’s ‘Commander-in-Chief’ and Wanding R. Marak is its ‘General Secretary’. The outfit divides its area of operation into several zones and each zone is headed by a ‘commander’. In its prime days, the outfit boasted of about 250 cadres, about half of whom were armed with an assortment of weapons.

Before the ceasefire agreement, ANVC operated in the Garo Hills area and in certain parts of the West Khasi Hills. It maintained its headquarters at Cheram in the Garo Hills. Among its activities was extortion from the trading community in the name of ‘fund collection’. Besides that, the outfit is also known to have indulged in fake currency circulation in Meghalaya.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland - Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) played a crucial role in the formation of the ANVC. It armed and trained the ANVC cadres in return for a share of the extorted amount. Subsequently, the outfit developed ties with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). Both the outfits received assistance from the ANVC in terms of establishing safe houses in the Garo Hills area. The ANVC cadres also helped the ULFA and the NDFB cadres in their movement between Bangladesh and Assam. ANVC maintained few camps in Bangladesh and is known to have worked in tandem with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.

The ANVC cadres have been involved in extortion targeting the coal belt areas of West Khasi Hills and East Garo Hills and have established a finance-sharing nexus with the NSCN-IM. Since it is on ceasefire with the government, the group is now using newly formed militant outfits like the Atong Liberation Army (ALA) in South Garo Hills, and Achik National Security Defence (ANSD) in West Khasi Hills, to sustain extortion drives in coal belt areas.

Some of the ANVC cadres based in two designated camps, at Samada and Chokpot, set up under the ceasefire agreement in the Garo Hills. Allegations of extortion activities continued to be leveled against the outfit’s cadres who continue to remain outside the camps.

 

 

By 23 December 2014 a total of 397 cadre of ANVC {161 UG cadre and 236 Over Ground Workers (OGWs)} and 277 cadre of ANVC/B had laid down their arms.

Now disbanded Garo rebels the ANVC and its breakaway faction ANVC-B had signed an Agreed Text of Settlement with the Government of India in 24 September 2014. The memorandum of settlement was signed by chief of the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) Bilash Marak and the head of the breakaway faction of the ANVC-B Rimpu Marak with the representatives of the central and state governments. The agreement stated that both groups would be disbanded within three months and their cadres would surrender arms and ammunition to the authorities. The agreement offered enhanced autonomy for the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council in Meghalaya and also a special package for speedier socio-economic and educational development of the area surrounding the council. Subsequent to this agreement on 16 December, 2014 748 cadres of ANVC and its faction ANVC-B formally surrendered their arms in Meghalaya. The leaders of the both groups formally announced disbanding of both groups on the occasion. According to the peace agreement, the groups have backed down from its demand of a separate Garoland to an autonomous council.

2. Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC)

A split in the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALC), the first militant outfit in Meghalaya led to the birth of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) in 1992. The HNLC aims at transforming Meghalaya into an exclusive province for the Khasi tribe. It also is prejudiced against the presence of the 'outsiders' in the State who it says have deprived the Khasi tribals of their rightful share from the gains of development. The Government of India had proscribed the HNLC on November 16, 2000.

Julius K Dorphang is the ‘Chairman’ of the HNLC. Cheristerfield Thangkhiew functions as its ‘General Secretary’. Other leaders are ‘Publicity Secretary’ M. Diengdoh and ‘Commander-in-chief’ Bobby Marwein. On July 24, 2007, Chairman Julius Dorphang, following internal differences within the organisation, surrendered to the State government.

Khasi Hills of Meghalaya and State capital Shillong has been the prime area of HNLC’s activities. The outfit extorts and abducts civilians and traders in order to shore up its fund collection activities. State police action against the outfit, however, met with several successes since 2005, rendering the outfit incapable of launching major strikes.

In its initial days, the HNLC maintained strategic linkages with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM). The outfit maintains few camps in Bangladesh, where its top leaders are located. It also promotes the circulation of fake currency in the State, at the behest of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.

Despite several attempts by the State government and the Church, the HNLC has stayed away from starting a process of negotiation with the government.

On 2014, the Government of Meghalaya offered a kind of peace talk with all the outfits of the State and also encouraged HNLC to come forward and sign fire between the government and the militants group. HNLC agreed to receive the offer of the government on one condition that the government have to appoint the middle person as interlocutor. But later the outfit called this offer invalid and threatened to retaliate against the alleged step-motherly attitude of the Meghalaya government. On 26 February, 2014 Khasi Students Union (KSU) vice president Frederick Kharmawphlang officially joined HNLC.

3. Liberation of Achik Elite Force(LAEF)

Formed in 2005, the Liberation of Achik Elite Force (LAEF) is a Garo militant outfit.

The LAEF in an appeal in the first week of October 2006, outlined the reasons of its existence as: "LAEF stands to fight for a separate Achik state after studying the scenario of the State. It is learnt that the citizens of our land have been ill-treated and discriminated in every field – socially, politically and economically by the Khasis and Jaintias of Meghalaya making our people lag behind in the development process." It called for the Achik (Garo) people "to co-operate and join hands to fight for a peaceful movement for an independent separate Achik State."

The present chief of LAEF is Darong Marak. He is the main trainer and ‘finance secretary’ of the outfit. The ‘chairman’ of the outfit is Remsu Rema alias Chingkam. Chingkam Marak works as the 'Convenor cum Publicity Secretary' of the LAEF.

The area of the operation includes the East Garo Hills district, South Garo Hills district, Ri Bhoi district and East Khasi Hills district. The outfit’s presence has also been reported from the Goalpara district of Assam. As many as 50 well armed and trained LAEF militants operate from the Garo Hills forests.

LAEF has linkages with the NSCN-IM, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Dima Halam Daogah - Jewel Garlossa (DHD-J). Its cadres are trained mainly by the NSCN-IM, though some were also trained by the DHD-J.

On 15 April, 2016 LAEF main faction’s Commander-in-chief Mathew G Momin and his deputy Ravan Basumatary along with four cadres surrendered before police in the Dainadubi outpost in North Garo Hills (NGH).

4.PEOPLE’S LIBERATION FRONT OF MEGHALAYA (PLF-M)

The People’s Liberation Front of Meghalaya (PLF-M) is an offshoot of the erstwhile Achik Liberation Matgrik Army (ALMA), which wanted a separate Garoland State for the Garos. In 1994 most of the ALMA militants surrendered and some of these surrendered rebels went to form PLF-M. The group operates mainly in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya and its objectives are economic development of the Garo Hills, as well as better educational opportunities for the Garo tribes in Meghalaya. It also demands a separate state for the Garos.

The outfit is active in Dainadubi, Williamnagar, in East Garo Hills, and Dalu in West Garo Hills. Its main source of funds is extortion. Vincent Sangma is the chairman of the outfit and Nimush Marak is the ‘Commander in Chief’. It maintains its funds mainly through extortion and it has close connections with the ANVC. Currently this group is not in active state.

5. ACHIK NATIONAL SECURITY DEFENCE (ANSD)

Achik National Security Defence (ANSD) was formed in 2008 in West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. It is a shadow organization of NSCN-IM and ANVC. The outfit is mainly involved in extortion activities in the coal belt areas of West Khasi Hills. Currently this group is not in active state

6. ATONG LIBERATION ARMY (ALA)

Atong Liberation Army (ALA) was formed in 2008 in South Garo Hills of Meghalaya. It is a shadow organization of NSCN-IM and ANVC. The outfit is mainly involved in extortion activities in the coal belt areas of South Garo Hills. Currently this group is not in active state.

7. UNITED ACHIK NATIONAL FRONT (UANF)

United Achik National Front (UANF) was formed in March 2004 by a breakaway faction of the People’s Liberation Front of Meghalaya (PLF-M). Its objective is to establish an independent state for the Garo people. Nemos Marak is the Commander-in-Chief of the outfit.

UANF is active in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya. It finances its operations through extortion and ransom money from kidnappings. It has also established a nexus with the NDFB to target coal traders in the Garo Hills. UANF also has links with other Garo militant outfits in Meghalaya and outfits in other North Eastern states. It also manages its camps in Bangladesh. Currently this group is not in active state.

8. ACHIK NATIONAL VOLUNTEERS COUNCIL (ANVC)- B

The ANVC-B came into existence in 2011, as a breakaway faction of ANVC. A leader of ANVC Bernard Rimpu Marak due to differences in leadership walked away from the parent group to form ANVC-B with another ANVC commander Mukosh Marak.

On April 2012, ANVC had asserted that the group would fight for a ‘greater Garoland’( including all the three districts of the Garo Hills – East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills and Garo dominated areas of West Khasi Hills, in Meghalaya, as well as Goalpara and Kamrup Districts in Assam). It also said that would negotiate a truce with the govt. separately from the ANVC.

9. GARO NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY

The Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) was founded in 2009 as an attempt to create a separate ‘Garoland’ in the western parts of Meghalaya. The group possesses an estimated strength of 200-250 cadres who operates from the coal-rich Garo Hills of Meghalaya and Garo-inhabited areas of Goalpara/Kamrup (R) District of Assam. The outfit was initially led by former Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Meghalaya, Pakchara R. Sangma alias Champion R. Sangma, after he left the police force. Soon after the group’s inception, he became the 'chairman' of the outfit and Sohan D. Shira, former ANVC 'area commander' for the East Garo Hills, became the 'commander-in-chief’. GNLA was declared a terrorist organization by the Govt. of India in January 2012.

GNLA has been involved in several cases of murder, extortion, gun running and kidnapping in all the three Garo Hills districts in Meghalaya. Over the years GNLA has maintained close ties with other militant groups in the Northeast like United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Songbijit, NDFB (S), and National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) etc.

One of the major attacks triggered by GNLA when two police personnel were killed and three constables were injured in an IED attack on 25 July 2014. GNLA is also become notorious due to insurgent activities like killing of innocent civilians and security forces, engaging physical assault on Govt. employees, lobbing grenades in Government buildings, extortion among others.

On January 2016, GNLA’s publicity secretary announced that the group had teamed up with other major militant groups operating in the north east so as to be part of the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFWSEA) which already included rebel groups like ULFA, NSCN etc. Further GNLA stated that it was now a part of the joint organization along with Khasi Hills-based Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) as a member. According to a press release by GNLA’s publicity secretary in February 2016 the outfit had expressed willingness to join talks and had asked the government to appoint an interlocutor for negotiations.

The group was led by self- styled commander-in-chief Sohan D Shira after its chairman Pakchara R. Sangma’s arrest in 2015. Credited as a significant success, Police on 24 February 2018-killed chief and self-styled chief of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), Sohan D Shira, during an encounter in East Garo Hills district. Sohan D Shira was carrying a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head since 2014 and his hunt was expedited after his group was suspected of murdering NCP candidate Jonathone N Sangma following an IED attack on February 2018.

10. UNITED A’CHIK LIBERATION ARMY (UALA)

UALA was formed in February 2013 by Norrok, a former action commander of the then disbanded Breakaway faction of ANVC-B, Novembirth, who was general secretary of the GNLA, joined the outfit as a self-styled chairman in October 2013. The outfit came into existence with the objective of protecting the rights of Garos living in Assam and had a presence in the Garo-dominated areas of Goalpara and Kamrup. The outfit was associated with many cases of kidnapping, extortion and killing, as well as there are several criminal cases pending against its cadres.

According to some Intelligence reports, the UALA has a sizeable number of AK rifles, small arms and hand grenades, which the outfit picked up from ANVC-B camps before leaving the parent outfit. UALA draw sharp criticisms in 2013 when it targeted a particular community during Diwali in Assam's Goalpara District where Seven lives were lost.

The outfit had signed a formal agreement on December 18 with the Government of India in 2015. The period of the UALA came to an end with as many as 68 cadres of the outfit laid down their arms in an official disbanding ceremony held at the SMELC Building in Tura in West Garo Hills District. The disbanding took place in the presence of CM Mukul Sangma, Home Minister Roshan Warjri, church leaders, senior Police officers, government officials and other dignitaries.