SHILLONG: Meghalaya Social Welfare Minister Deborah Ch Marak, who has been charge-sheeted for her alleged links with the terrorist outfit Garo National Liberation Army, will appear before a local court in Williamnagar on November 14.

Confirming this here on Tuesday, Marak said that she would appear before the court along with her lawyer.

She received summon from the court a few days back.

“I will appear before the court and fight in the court to prove my innocence,” she said.

It may be mentioned that on November 3, Meghalaya police had filed a charge sheet against Deborah and former Williamnagar Block Youth Congress president Tennydard Marak in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate F S Sangma for hatching a criminal conspiracy with the GNLA in order to win the assembly elections.

However, till now it is not clear whether Tennydard Marak will appear in the court or not on November 14.

The police have submitted its investigation report to the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate and now the Court will draw up legal proceedings against those named in the charge-sheet.

Tennydard, who is another accused in the charge-sheet, is in the news for questioning the tribal status of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, and he is also pursuing the case in Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Forest and Environment minister Prestone Tynsong has informed that issue of Deborah’s charge-sheet was discussed neither in the Cabinet nor in the CLP nor at the party-level.

“I came to know about it only from the newspapers,” he said adding “Let court take its decision in this regard.”

Asked whether all the 60 MLAs should be brought under the purview of probe for alleged politician-militant nexus, Tynsong said, “Why only MLAs, probe can be ordered against any individual who allegedly maintains a link with any militant group.”

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) was formed in 2009. Since its formation, the GNLA has been involved in killing, abduction, extortion, bomb blasts and attacks on Security Forces (SFs). In the current situation, the State Government is still examining the activities of the outfit before declaring it an outlawed group. The outfit is believed to have around 70 active members, of whom 45 have completed training. The law and order situation in the Garo-dominated areas has deteriorated after the outfit was formed. According to media reports, the Central Government is considering to ban the outfit.

The outfit was formed by a former Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Meghalaya, Pakchara R. Sangma alias Champion R. Sangma, after deserting the Police Force. He is the 'chairman' of the outfit and Sohan D. Shira, former Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) 'area commander' for the East Garo Hills is the 'Commander-in-Chief' of the outfit. The cadre base of the outfit is mainly formed by deserters from ANVC, Liberation of Achik Elite Force (LAEF) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

The outfit operates in the three Districts of Garo Hills in Western part of Meghalaya. Though the main area of operation of the GNLA was in East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills, it has started to expand its network in coal-rich borders of West Khasi Hills bordering South Garo Hills. Dorengchigre village located in East Garo Hills District is the heartland of GNLA. Also, GNLA 'chairman' is reportedly in Bangladesh seeking support and seeing the probability of setting up base in Dhaka.

The GNLA has forged close operational links with other North-East-based militant groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the NDFB. It also has links with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland--Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM). The outfit has also forged an alliance with the Bangladesh-based militant group, A'chik Special Dragon Party, which operates along the India-Bangladesh border in the western part of Meghalaya.