Meghalaya Police commandoes on Saturday gunned down Sohan D Shira, commander-in-chief of banned Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) in East Garo hills district.

Though Meghalaya Police have not made any official statement on the encounter, official sources confirmed the report, claiming that the GNLA C-in-C has been shot dead, and they are also looking for another senior leader of the outfit, who is reportedly hiding in the area.

Sources said, commandoes of SF 10, acting on a tip-off, raided a hideout in Sadugre, close to Samanda in East Garo Hills district on Saturday morning. When the team tried to get closer to the house, the GNLA cadres fired at the raiding team, forcing the commandos to retaliate immediately.

Sohan is a “most wanted” insurgent leader, and was responsible for more than two-dozen killings and encounters in the insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills districts of western Meghalaya. The GNLA is fighting for a separate homeland for the Garos.

Sohan D Shira with his family

Though Sohan D Shira had surrendered as the Area Commander of ANVC in 2007, delay in the implementation of the rehabilitation package by the government had prompted him to go back to the jungle again with Champion Sangma, a DSP of Meghalaya Police to float GNLA.

On August 25, 2007, Sohan had surrendered before the then Chief Minister DD Lapang in the presence of then Deputy Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and senior government officials at the official residence of Lapang. He had also started a saw-mill in East Garo hills after the surrender.

While Champion Sangma is confined in Shillong Jail, Sohan’s death will practically mean the end of GNLA’s armed movement in western Meghalaya.

So far, the outfit has been operating with about two-dozen armed cadres from the remote corners of South Garo hills and some pockets of East Garo hills districts. The outfit also has a couple of camps in Netrokona and Mymensing districts of Bangladesh.

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