SHILLONG, June 19 � Meghalaya police have arrested three arms smugglers and seized eight AK-56 rifles and magazines last night near Umroi, 15 kms from here.
After receiving intelligence inputs, the police laid a blockade at Lad Umroi � the trijunction where NH-40 bifurcates towards Umroi-Guwahati-Shillong � and intercepted the vehicle and recovered the arms and arrested the smugglers.
The vehicle (Gypsy - MZ 01 D 5272) was on its way from Mizoram and was heading towards Karbi Anglong district in Assam through the less frequented Umroi-Mawlasnai-Block II road. The weapons were neatly sealed inside the custom-made seats and the ceiling of the vehicle.
The smugglers have been identified as Lalchawisanga Zahau, 45, CL Hlira, 47, and Lallawmzuala, 34. They were travelling with the weapons from Piau village in Mizoram�s Champhai district bordering Myanmar, police said.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is questioning the trio, but due to language barrier there hasn�t been much headway in the case. �We are trying to find out who the supplier was and whom it was being supplied to,� an NIA official, who identified himself as Inspector Anil, said.
But, according to the police, the trio belonged to Myanmar. �The vehicle was headed towards Mawlasnai and further to Karbi Anglong district of Assam,� PS Marwein, Officer-in-Charge of Umroi police station told reporters today.
Intelligence sources said, �captain� of Chin National Army (CNA) of Myanmar is actively involved in arms smuggling from Mandalay in Myanmar. He and his group has been �using Shillong as a base� to supply arms and ammunition to insurgent groups of the North East.
Majority of the arms that are in demand from NE-based militant organisations, sources say, are AK-47s, M-16s and Chinese made hand-grenades.
In earlier cases, Myanmar-based militant operatives were arrested for arms smuggling here. Sources say, apart from CNA, Karen and Kachin militant outfits, fighting against the Myanmarese military junta have camps in areas close to south Mizoram and cadres of these outfits are also involved in arms smuggling.
India shares a 1,600 km unfenced border with Myanmar, with 404 km being shared by Mizoram. Mizoram Chief Minister, Lal Thanhawla during his visit here earlier this year termed smuggling of arms and counterfeit currency as a major concern for his State.
He promised that the Mizoram Government would no longer allow its territory as a �free State� for arms and counterfeit currency smugglers and security agencies were strictly monitoring the Myanmar border.