South Garo Hills police have arrested the son of a prominent local musician from Tura along with a lady friend and a courier for channelling extortion money of the GNLA amounting to several lakh rupees and frozen two bank accounts which had a total of Rs 28 lakh on Thursday. The mastermind involved in channelling the money of the banned outfit was identified by police as Solly Sangma (33), son of Garo musician Lucas Marak. He was picked up from Tura for questioning on Thursday and taken to Baghmara where he was officially placed under arrest the same evening.
Surprisingly, the deposits of several lakh rupees into the two accounts failed to get noticed by the banking authorities despite the Central Government and the Reserve Bank of India having already issued guidelines in this regard.
Police trailing GNLA money
South Garo Hills police first got a whiff of the money laundering operation of the GNLA during a recent counter-insurgency operation in the district.
‘We came across information which indicated that a lady from Chokpot was handling large sums of money sent by the GNLA and we started an investigation immediately,’ said district police chief Anand Mishra.
The investigation led police to 26-year-old Probilla Marak, a rice shop dealer from Chokpot bazaar.
When police arrived at her place on Wednesday to take her for questioning she obliged and later revealed the modus operandi of the outfit’s money laundering operation.
She was reportedly contacted frequently by Solly Sangma who managed to influence her to keep in touch with the banned group’s senior commander Baichung Ch Momin and use her bank account to channelize the illegal money.
Following the demonetization of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency last month, the central government had issued a general alert that outlawed militant groups might park their ill-gotten money in bank accounts of civilians.
Banks on alert
Police had alerted all the banks in the State to be watchful of any suspicious deposits and to inform the police in all such cases.
Police have also alerted the public not to allow their bank accounts to park terror funds belonging to militant groups and to pass on information to the police in case they are forced or compelled by any militant group or anti-social elements.