Williamnagar(Meghalaya), Feb 24: In a major development, a former area commander of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) was among four persons arrested after they were caught by the State Forest Department while smuggling coal and boulders from within the Rongrenggre Forest Reserve in Baiza under Williamnagar police station in East Garo Hills.
Rakban D. Shira (Philiport) was a senior member of the GNLA when he surrendered to the police a few years ago. He was arrested , along with three more persons by the State forest officials when the four were smuggling coal and boulders from a reserve forest.
The others arrested have been identified as Abham Shir (29) of Lower Dilma, Resubelpara in North Garo Hills, Green R. Marak (32) of Romgreng Chidekgre in East Garo Hills and Nabul Choudhary (50) of Ambari Fatasil under Guwahati in Assam.
As per information from forest officials, the incident took place this morning at 2:30 am when two trucks along with an i20 car were stopped near the Chisobibra tri junction, about 10 kms from Williamnagar.
“When the truck was checked we found it was carrying coal and boulders. The i20 was apparently escorting the truck. When questioned, they revealed that they had taken the coal and boulders from within the Rongrenggre Reserve. The four were apprehended and arrested under the MMDR Act as well as MFRA,” said the highly placed forest source from East Garo Hills.
The truck carrying coal bore registration AS 17C 2085 with the i20 having registration of ML 05G 1939.
A few days ago, another truck with coal, extracted from within the Rongrenggre Reserve was also caught revealing how some local criminals, in conjunction with Assam smugglers and traders, had been ravaging the fragile Rongrenggre Reserve. Ironically the forest department, just a few days prior, had sealed the coal pits within the forest.
Confirming the development, acting Superintending of Police of East Garo Hills, Abraham T. Sangma said that the four, including Rakban were in the custody of the police after the Forest Department filed a case against them.
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