SHILLONG, March 12: State Home Minister, James Sangma has reiterated the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government’s commitment to ensure that Meghalaya is free of the scourges of militancy and other criminal activities.
“The government of Meghalaya is committed that the state should be militancy free and crime free,” Sangma said while welcoming the surrendering of the eight last remaining cadres of Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) here on Monday.
Appealing to various militant organizations to shun violence and come to mainstream, he however said, “The government will also like to make it clear that there will be no negotiations with any organization which indulges in violence and criminal activities.”
Terming Monday’s surrendering of GNLA cadres as a big achievement, Sangma expressed confidence that this is the beginning of the end of militancy in the state of Meghalaya.
“Let us all resolve that we will start a new chapter of peace and prosperity in the state,” he said while stressing on the need to concentrate in improving other facets of policing in the state like fighting crimes and human trafficking.
He also assured that the government is committed to strengthen the police further by way of forensic science and other modern equipment.
The eight GNLA cadres, who surrendered with arms before the Home Minister include Hendison M Sangma @ Newak (24), Barningstone S Sangma @ Willam (24), Thangkham Ch Momin @ Bilwat (30), Kiubirth S Sangma @ Kake (22, Rahul S Sangma @ Nikam (25), Timbil Ch Marak @ Churik (25), Chonbirth Ch Marak (18) and Sujit G Momin @ Roben (21).
Two AK-56, Insas Rifle, 9mm pistol, Glock-19 with 7 rounds, SMG with 65 live round, 303 Rifle with 50 rounds, Air gun, .22 pistol were also deposited by the cadres.
The Home Minister also assured that as per government policy, the surrendered cadres will also be provided with rehabilitation package and will be given guidance and counseling.
Appreciating their decision to give up arms, he said, “It is an act of great courage and it is a welcome step for peace in Garo Hills districts, West Khasi Hills and South Khasi Hills. I congratulate them and their families who are getting their sons back with them and I wish them success in their future life.”
During the surrendering ceremony, the police department also felicitated Rev ST Sangma and Rev KD Sangma for their important role in convincing the cadres to lay down their arms and join the mainstream.
Thanking the church leaders, civil society organizations, police department and others for working in harmony to restore peace in the disturbed areas of the state, the Home Minister also remembered civilians who were killed and police officers and personnel who laid down their lives in the fight against militancy.
Stating that the fight against militancy has been a long one, he said both parts of the state, the eastern range and western range have suffered from militancy.
He recalled that in 2004, a tripartite agreement was signed between the Central government, state government and ANVC and said it only ensured peace for some years in the Garo Hills region.
“Militancy in the eastern part was curbed by 2003 and has been kept under control by the consistent efforts of the police department as well as by the will of the people to resist the efforts of militants to gain any ground,” he said.
Sangma said that in the Garo Hills region, militancy was spearheaded by GNLA which was formed in 2009 and also by the mushrooming of a number of other groups such ASAK, AMEF, LAEF, UALA, UGSF, UANF, ARA.
According to him, there were a large number of kidnappings and extortions as well as death of civilians and police personnel.
Sangma also reminded that the fight against militancy was spearheaded by the state police specially SOT teams, SWAT teams and SF-10 personnel.
“But what is of the most importance is the resistance of the people against the militancy,” he said while pointing out that the people of Garo Hills came out against militancy in various rallies and peace initiatives were undertaken.
Also those present during the ceremony were chief secretary Y Tsering and additional chief secretary PW Ingty.