NIA grills Myanmarese arms smugglers

Eight AK-56 rifles, disassembled to make it easy to carry, were found below the seat cavities of the jeep.

Umiam: The National Investigative Agency (NIA) on Sunday quizzed the three members of a Myanmarese arms smuggling gang who were arrested in Meghalaya with a huge cache of Kalashnov rifles, an officer said.

In the biggest arms seizure in Meghalaya, the state police on Saturday night arrested three arms smugglers and seized eight AK-56 rifles and eight magazines from a vehicle at Lad Umroi area, about 15 km from Shillong.

The arms were to be handed to another dealer at Mawlasnai village under Ri-Bhoi district, bordering Assam`s Karbi Anglong district, according to officials.

Lalchawisanga Zahau, 45, CL Hlira, 47, and Lallawmzuala, 34, were travelling with the weapons from Piau village in Mizoram`s Champhai district bordering Myanmar, police said.

Claudia A Lyngwa, the district police chief of Ri-Bhoi, said that seized weapons hidden in a secret compartment under the seats of a Gypsy were believed to be meant for the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom.

The trio have been ferrying arms for northeast rebels from Mizoram via Shillong on several occasions, she said.

India shares a 1,600 km unfenced border with Myanmar.

The five-member NIA team from Assam led by Deputy Superintendent Devinder Singh grilled Zahau, one of the kingpins in the arms racket, for several hours.

A local court has remanded the three to 14 days police custody for questioning.

A team of police officials from Assam and Mizoram would also interrogate the three men.

The porous border, thick with forests, along Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura have been used by the illegal weapons syndicate to smuggle small and medium arms and ammunition, besides explosives, to northeastern militant groups.

"These Burmese Mizo (Myanmarese ethnic Chin) have made Shillong as their safe haven taking advantage of tribal Indian Mizos who have settled here," said a senior Meghalaya police officer.


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