Shillong: The Meghalaya government today served a week's ultimatum to the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) to surrender all its arms before the government or else 'force' would be used against them, officials said on Tuesday.

The ultimatum was served following police reports that a large number of youngsters were presently at the camp of the GNLA apart from few armed militants, Meghalaya Director General of Police N Ramachandran said.

"We have given them seven days' time to give themselves up to the authorities with whatever weapons they have, failing which the police will have to use force to attack and destroy those camps," Ramachandran said.
The police chief warned that security forces will be compelled to use 'lethal arms' as the militants are equipped with 'sophisticated' weapons.

Intelligence sources said about 120 persons were presently housed in the main camp identified by the police in one of the thick jungles of Garo Hills.

Maintaining that the security forces have so far exercised 'utmost restraint' while carrying out operations against the GNLA militants to avoid collateral damage and civilian casualties, the DGP said the GNLA militants have been resorting to barbaric killings of innocent citizens, kidnappings for ransom and extortion of money in the name of welfare of the tribal people.

The ultimatum was served ahead of the 'mourning day' announced by the militant outfit from 6 AM - 6 Pm on April 12.  Ramachandran regretted that the militant group has been recruiting innocent teenagers who are unable to make their own informed decisions.

The citizens in three Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya have been advised to keep away from militant camps and avoid giving them support by way of rations, medical assistance, mobile phones etc to avoid arrest and prosecution.

"Assisting and aiding a terrorist organisation is a serious offence under the law of the land," Ramachandran said.

The GNLA has been deemed as a terror organisation in January this year by the Centre.