Special Force (SF-10) commandos in Meghalaya on Saturday killed in a gunfight a top Garo rebel leader wanted for his alleged involvement in several killings and bombings in the state.Acting on a tip off, the commandos raided Sudugre area in East Garo Hills district and shot dead Sohan Dalbot Shira, the military wing chief of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), in a gun battle, a police official said."It is confirmed that he has been killed in a gunfight with the SF-10 commandos at 11.50 a.m. and we are waiting for further details of the entire operation," Meghalaya Police chief Swaraj Bir Singh told IANS.However, the GNLA was yet to issue any statement confirming the death of Shira.Singh said the gun battle began when the GNLA rebels fired at the commandos.Shira was wanted in several cases of murder, kidnapping, bombings and extortion in Garo Hills, besides the killing of Nationalist Congress Party candidate, Jonathone Sangma on February 18.Sangma was killed along with his bodyguard and two party workers in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in East Garo Hills when their convoy was returning from a campaign.Congratulating the fearless women and men of the Meghalaya Police who have led an untiring effort and commitment to eliminate enemies of the state, like Shira, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma tweeted: "Their effort has been vindicated and they have left no stone unturned in dealing effectively with criminals and anti-national elements to ensure heightened peace which is a prerequisite for growth and prosperity of our state."
"The committed endeavour of the government to strengthen our internal security apparatus with a zero tolerance policy for militancy has started showing positive results, especially with this latest incident," Sangma tweeted."It is now time for all the people from all walks of life to come together and unequivocally pursue the common and shared objective of ensuring the complete restoration of peace in the state and then to maintain it for the kind of development of the state we all envisage and dream of," the Chief Minister said.The Meghalaya Police has sounded a security alert in the Garo Hills. SF-10 commandos continued their combing operations to track down other rebels.The GNLA is fighting for a separate "Garoland" in western Meghalaya, led by police officer-turned-rogue champion R. Sangma.It has also forged an alliance with the Bangladesh-based rebel group, A'chik Special Dragon, and operates jointly with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland.Sangma is presently lodged in Shillong jail after being arrested from the India-Bangladesh border on July 30, 2012.