Shillong, February 4: The scramble for the dwindling extortion sources has ignited a fresh turf war between the armed Garo militant outfits in the coal belts of at least three districts of Garo Hills and in parts of West Khasi Hills. All of them, mely GNLA, ASAK and AMEF, are virtually trying to gain domince in stretch where coal transshipment has been allowed by the tiol Green Tribul (NGT).
On Tuesday, the GNLA and ASAK militants exchanged fire at a village near Ronjeng, which was viewed as a direct turf war. A senior police officer involved in operations against the Garo Hills–based militants told The Sentinel, “GNLA–ASAK firefight on Tuesday is a war to assert domince over an area where money can be extorted from coal business”.
“Since the NGT ruling and the subsequent downslide of coal business, the militant groups have virtually ended up fighting for the limited water (source of money available) to sustain themselves,” stated the senior police official.
The source admitted that the internecine fight has begun afresh, even as he informed that the report has reached the Shillong police headquarter. The police official said that critical times lies ahead for the police forces when they have to go for intervention combat, besides taking on the same militant groups who are waging another war with the state.
The critical aspect is that the militant groups will land up in the same turf in their attempt to make the most of the vulnerable source of extortion in the coal routes. The Shallang–Rongjeng–Songsak, Nengkra, Dobu and even Daidubi are the identified vulnerable areas. In the scramble for the spoil, the GNLA seems to have an edge. However, the ASAK and AMEF leaders were once the comrade in arms of the GNLA. They assess well about each other’s strengths and weaknesses, informed the source, adding that the security forces are equally aware about the modus operandi.