Rapiush Ch Sangma, vice-chairman of the Meghalaya-based militant outfit Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) who was arrested in Bengaluru on Monday, has a Samajwadi Party link. He also worked for an agency of the United Nations.
Rapiush, 35, was the SP candidate in 2013 for the Rongjeng assembly constituency in western Meghalaya’s Garo Hills. With only 7.88% of the constituency’s 23,815 voters backing him, he ended up fifth among nine candidates.
Earlier, he had worked for the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development in areas under Rongjeng constituency. He later became a block programme officer under the National Rural Health Mission.
But soon after losing the election, Rapiush vanished from the area before resurfacing inside a jungle camp as the GNLA’s vice-chairman. He was virtually the advisor to GNLA ‘commander-in-chief’ Sohan D Shira. On interrogation, Rapiush said he joined GNLA to recover the money he lost while contesting the elections.
While in the GNLA hideouts, Rapiush used social media sites extensively to put across the outfit’s views and objectives. This helped the police track him.
“He was hiding in Bengaluru and leading a luxurious life with money received through bank transfers. Following inputs from our counterparts there, a joint police team raided his house early Monday morning,” said Meghalaya inspector general of police (operations) GHP Raju.
Joint commissioner of police (Bangalore East) KV Sharat Chandra told HT that the police will continue to investigate the antecedents of Rapiush. He said that it is a matter of “serious concern” that a leader of an insurgent group found sanctuary in Bengaluru. “This is the third time a militant leader from the North-East is being arrested here. We cannot rule out the possibility of a support network here,” he said.