Shillong: Four Indians convicted of arms smuggling and imprisoned for 17 years in Bangladesh last week are members of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), a militant outfit in Meghalaya, a senior police official said Sunday.
"Sketchy reports from various networks confirmed that the four convicted Indians in Bangladesh are members of the outlawed HNLC," Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) SK Jain said.
The HNLC, a Khasi separatist outfit that carries out hit-and-run operations from its hideouts in Bangladesh, has been demanding a sovereign Hynniewtrep homeland in Eastern Meghalaya.
On April 29, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge of Sylhet-I convicted Robin (35), Mill (28), Over (25) and Star (24) -- all hailing from Shillong -- in a five-year-old case of arms smuggling.
All the four, Jain said, were wanted by the Meghalaya Police for their involvement in the biggest bank heist in Jaintia Hills district January 24, 2005. Rs 93 lakh was looted from the Meghalaya Cooperative Apex Bank in Khliehriat sub-division.
On July 15, 2005, Bangladesh Rifles troopers arrested the four HNLC militants from Karaballa point under Sylhet district after they entered Bangladesh through Karimganj sector in Assam (India).
The Bangladesh border guards recovered from their possession an AK 56 rifle, three grenades, two 9 mm pistols, 316 bullets and four magazines of AK 56 rifle, 328 bullets and three magazines of 9 mm pistol, Rs 3,000 and 2,700 takas.
Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.
According to the police official, the HNLC is closely linked to the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland and the National Liberation Front of Tripura.