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Karbi Peace Pact: Meghalaya too awaits similar transition to peace

Meghalaya has been hogging the limelight in the recent past for the resurgence of militant acts allegedly led by proscribed outfit Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) involving an IED blast and serving extortion notice to businessmen and politicians of the state.

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Shillong: With the Centre signing a peace pact with five insurgent groups of Karbi Anglong, a ray of hope has rekindled among the peace brokers in Meghalaya-where insurgency has raised its ugly head again for a long-lasting solution.

Meghalaya has been hogging the limelight in the recent past for the resurgence of militant acts allegedly led by proscribed outfit Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) involving an IED blast and serving extortion notice to businessmen and politicians of the state.

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Successive state governments in the pine state have attempted taming the ugly head of insurgency either through parleys or police action but met with very little success.

This is due to the fact perhaps, that there is no visible roadmap towards lasting peace laid out in the public domain either by the government or civil society groups/individuals that would like to play the role of interlocutor. Hence divergent views and stands have emerged over the last two decades over this thorny issue of insurgency.

The recent killing of the surrendered HNLC founder general secretary Cherish Starfield Thangkhiew allegedly by a police team had sparked off widespread outrage leading to a clampdown of curfew and data services in Shillong agglomeration.

The incident has again brought to the fore the role of government in controlling insurgency in finding out a peaceful solution to the decades-old problem.

Senior BJP legislator AL Hek said, “It seems the police and the government are applying the methods of Taliban, and this is unacceptable in our society,” even as he deplored the manner in which a supposedly crime was handled by his government.
He lamented, “Cherish Starfield Thangkhiew was no longer a militant. He had surrendered before the government and was living a normal life like any other citizen but to brutally kill him is like an act of Taliban and I condemn it.”

Hek, who had initiated peace parleys between the HNLC and the state government even going to the extent of interceding with the Centre on this matter, is not disheartened however and expresses optimism that his efforts will fructify. “I will not give up. As I had made the initiative, I will continue with it to ensure that peace returns to the state. Each and everyone in the state wants peace,” Hek said.
Echoing similar sentiment Sanbor Shullai, a cabinet minister in the MDA government in Meghalaya appealed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah for brokering peace with insurgents in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of an “insurgency free northeast”.

“Thus, the BJP in Meghalaya and the MDA government request the Central government to expedite the peace process with HNLC and help to restore complete peace and tranquility in Shillong,” Mr Shullai said.
There is an opposite school of thought also, former home minister Robert G Lyngdoh who has been vehemently against all acts of violence and intimidation and an active advocator of life without arms, feels that too much “credibility” is being given to the outfit.

“I think we are giving them (HNLC) too much credibility. You can’t talk to every group of goondas. First and foremost, they should stop their unlawful activities and then approach the government for talks. I believe only through mutual understanding we can come to a peaceful arrangement,” he affirmed. By David Laitphlang

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