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Govt grants safe passage to HMLC militants for peace talks

The banned outfit has been fighting for a sovereign homeland for the tribal Khasi population of Meghalaya. In the past, the outfit carried out its hit-and-run operations from its in Bangladesh.

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Shillong: The Meghalaya and Central government granted a safe passage to militant leaders of the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), who are to initiate peace talks, the outfit representative said on Tuesday.

The safe passage to the HNLC leaders, who are hiding in Bangladesh, was granted after the Meghalaya government’s interlocutor Peter S. Dkhar held three rounds of meetings during the last three months with the executive members of the militant outfit, who are holed up in Bangladesh.

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“The safe passage has been granted. We are expecting that some of the leaders will come to India in a few days or weeks from now to hold discussions regarding the issues and agendas of the peace talks,” Sadon Blah, who is the representative of the HNLC, told reporters on Tuesday.

“The intention of the safe passage is to enable the HNLC leaders to come forward and have direct discussions with the Centre or the state government. This move would speed up the process of peace talks,” Blah said.

The banned outfit has been fighting for a sovereign homeland for the tribal Khasi population of Meghalaya. In the past, the outfit carried out its hit-and-run operations from its in Bangladesh.

Meghalaya shares a 443 km long border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltrations.

However, the HNLC’s representative informed that the agendas and issues would be made known to the public once the HNLC leaders put forward their views and political agendas before the government.

Asked if the HNLC has signed a ceasefire agreement with the government, the HNLC representative said, “The question of cease fire is not an appropriate topic to be discussed now . If the ceasefire has to happen, it will happen only after leaders of the HNLC have been able to put their point of view in front of the State and Central government.”

On February 8, 2022, HNLC general secretary, Saiñkupar Nongtraw offered to have peace talks within the ambit of the Indian constitution, which was welcomed by the Meghalaya government.

A month later, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) appointed retired IAS officer Peter S Dkhar as interlocutor of the HNLC peace talks. Dkhar is assisted by Akshaya Kumar Mishra, who is the Centre’s for Naga peace talks with the various factions of the NSCN.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had said that the state government would try to bring an end to the proposed peace process with the HNLC with an amicable solution.  

“I am hopeful that we can begin a peace process with HNLC to attain total peace in Meghalaya,” Sangma had said. 

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