SOUTH GARO HILLS (TIP): The gun battle between Meghalaya police and the Garo National Liberation Army, a militant group that allegedly shot a woman through her head for resisting an attempt to molest her in a remote village of the state’s South Garo Hills district, ended on June 5.

Security forces captured the main hideout of Sohan D Shira, the selfstyled commander of the GNLA, but the militants managed to escape under the cover of the thick forest and hilly terrain. Bullet-proof jackets and other incriminating material were recovered from the hideout. The operation took a long time because booby traps had been laid by the militants for the security forces on the approach route to the camp.

The gun battle in Durama jungle had started at 7.30 am yesterday, informed GHP Raju, Inspector General of Operations, Meghalaya Police. The 35-year-old woman was shot six times through the head at point blank range with an automatic assault rifle outside her home, the police had said. They said the woman’s five children, locked up in the house along with their father by the assailants, first saw them assault their mother and then blow her head off.

The FIR lodged in this case does not mention the alleged molestation. According to the police, the complaint was filed by the victim’s mother and they don’t want to pressurise the family, which is living under the threat of militancy, in any way. GNLA commander Shira has issued a statement to the press, saying action will be taken against the people who killed the woman, and added that such ‘crimes against women are not in the nature of the GNLA”.

Earlier, the publicity secretary of the GNLA had said the woman was shot because she was a police informer. The police have denied the claim.The GNLA was declared a terror organisation by the Centre in January 2012. It is allegedly involved in several cases of murder, kidnapping and extortion in all three Garo Hills districts in Meghalaya. The union home ministry has sanctioned 10 additional companies of paramilitary forces for Meghalaya in the wake of the incident.

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