TURA, July 3 � Relentless counter insurgency operations in the three districts of Garo Hills to flush out well entrenched Garo militants headed by a rogue Deputy Superintendent of Police is taking its toll on the Meghalaya police with the latest victims of militancy happening to be policemen themselves on Sunday morning leading to the death of two of their own men.
The tragic case occurred when one of the special police commando units mistakenly entered a trap laid for Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants deep inside the jungles of East Garo Hills leading to a firefight in which two police men died.
The botched operation took place in the densely forested area of the Durama Hills range, at Dorengchigre, 12 kms from Williamnagar town on the southern banks of the Simsang river.
The incident referred to as friendly fire in military terms is the first such incident to take place in Meghalaya. While it is not known what set off the firing and the entry of the second force into the ambush area, preliminary reports indicate that the unit which was meant to seal the outer perimeter may have unknowingly intruded into the ambush party�s area.
The ambush had been laid after specific intelligence reports had indicated the likely movement of militants through the area. Dorengchigre is a hotbed for GNLA activity and very close to Chachatgre village, home bastion of GNLA commander in chief Sohan D Shira.
�As far as we know one of the ambush parties ventured into the cordoned off zone of the other party probably losing track of their route due to the darkness and the heavy rain leading to the disaster,� informed a senior police official from the district.
Reports indicate that the camouflage dress of both police parties may have further confused the men since GNLA militants have been tactically using similar dress code inside the forests. Radio silence may also have compounded the situation.
As one of the ambush parties lay in wait they spotted movement of men heading in their direction. Within seconds shots ran out. Both parties exchanged fire believing they were taking on militants and it was only after two of their comrades fell that realisation occurred of the mistaken identity.
The deceased have been identified as Constable Exmarting Marak and Havildar Gopal Prasad Nunia. Both belonged to the 5th battalion of the State police based at Samgong, Williamnagar.