SHILLONG, April 28 - Five Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) cadres, who surrendered before the police here today, were clueless about GNLA�s �ideological fight for a Garoland.�
�The GNLA is fighting for Garoland,� Krewingbirth S Sangma, one of the surrendered cadres, said. �But I don�t know what Garoland means,� the militant, who is in his mid-twenties, a school drop-out and �GNLA private soldier,� said. Krewingbirth together with Rakseng Ch Marak, Jambil Ch Momin, Walban R Marak and Tarzan Ch Sangma surrendered before Director General of Police, Rajiv Mehta at the police headquarters here.
Not just, Krewingbirth, all the other four who surrendered, drew a blank when asked about GNLA�s ideology, for which the outfit has shed the blood of innocents for years now.
So what unites these cadres is not GNLA�s ideology, but their socio-economic status and age. They were all in their early twenties, school drop-outs and coming from poor families settled in one of the most backward districts of the country � South and East Garo Hills region. These five cadres had joined the outfit in 2012.
�I have parents and an elder brother who does manual labour,� Krewingbirth said adding, his parents were threatened with dire consequences if he failed to join the GNLA. The others had similar stories to tell.
That was their part of the story, which may or may not be entirely true, but the reality is that these boys from East and South Garo Hills have been joining the GNLA out of sheer poverty and absence of employment opportunities.
Krewingbirth said they were paid Rs 2,000-3,000 irregularly by the GNLA, sometimes in two or three months. He said the mobile phones were the only mode of communication to keep in touch with their families. �We were sometimes given a 15-day holiday to get to our families,� the cadre, who spoke in Hindi, said.
He, however, was hesitant to reveal how he made use of these �holidays.� One of the married cadres said he often communicated with his wife over the phone from the jungles of Durama Hills in East Garo Hills.
�Our parents and families still don�t know we have surrendered,� Krewingbirth said with much anticipation of life ahead. �We will cooperate with the police,� he said about his future, but turned cold when asked if he would help police nab the GNLA chief, Sohan D Shira.
Sohan has been a slippery customer and has managed to elude the police so far. The GNLA claims to be fighting for �Garoland,� which is in line with the Bodoland Territorial Council.
Meanwhile, the cadres who fled their camp in Nangalbibra under the command of one Rakkam, brought along with them three AK-53s, one carbine, one G-3 Rifle, grenade and several rounds of ammunition.