Police officials said as many as eight members of the banned insurgent Garo National Liberation Army attacked the Williamnagar jail in the East Garo Hills district Sunday. Assistant jailor Neil Warjri was killed and warder Sharai Singh Thabah died later from wounds sustain in the attack, officials said.
Indian Director General of Prisons Prem Singh told the Indo-Asian News Service: "None of the prisoners, including jailed GNLA rebels, could manage to escape from the jail. We will investigate if there were security lapses."
East Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Vijay Mantri said that a judicial inquiry has been ordered into the attack.
The GNLA was formed in 2009 killing and abducting Indian state officials and security forces, supporting its funding through extortion. Indian security officials say GNLA has about 70 active members.
Former Meghalaya Deputy Superintendent of Police Pakchara R. Sangma, who goes by the alias "Champion R. Sangma," formed the GNLA after deserting the police force
The GNLA objective is to establish a "sovereign Garoland" in the western areas of Meghalaya through armed struggle.
Sangma serves as GNLA chairman, while former Achik National Volunteers Council area commander for the East Garo Hills Sohan D. Shira serves as GNLA commander in chief. The majority of the GNLA personnel are deserters from the ANVC, the Liberation of Achik Elite Force and National Democratic Front of Bodoland.
The GNLA operates primarily in the three Garo Hills districts in the western part of Meghalaya state in northeastern India. While the GNLA's initial base of operations was the East and South Garo Hills, it has started to expand its activities in the coal-rich border regions of the West Khasi Hills, which lay along the South Garo Hills.
Indian intelligence says Sangma has visited Bangladesh to seek support and explore the possibility of setting up a base in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.
Besides possibly expanding its operational base to a neighbor country, Indian security officials are concerned that the GNLA has developed links with other militant organizations in northeastern India.
Those groups include the United Liberation Front of Asom, the NDFB and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah.
Indian intelligence also says the GNLA has initiated a tactical alliance with Bangladesh's A'chik Special Dragon Party militant group, which operates along the Indian-Bangladeshi border in the western part of Meghalaya state.
In the wake of the Williamnagar prison assault Meghalaya State Director General of Police Kulbir Krishan said a team of Meghalaya's Special Weapons and Tactics and Combat Battalion for Resolute Action commandos have begun a search operation for those responsible.
Krishan said, "Our men are already on the ground and we are hopeful we'll track them down at the earliest."
Inspector General of Police H. Nongpluh, in-charge of the Western Range, traveled to Williamnagar to take stock of the situation.
Heightening Meghalaya state security officials' concerns are the upcoming Meghalaya State assembly elections, scheduled for Feb. 23, for which preparations are already under way.