SHILLONG, May 10: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has sent peace overtures to the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government led by Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma by indicating that it is ready to come forward and engage in peace talks.
In a statement issued here on Thursday, HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said that this is the right time for the government to show its positive side as the outfit is ready to come forward to reach an amicable solution.
“Now the ball is in the government’s court as to decide whether it wants to give us a chance to enter the mainstream or continue our unending struggle,” he said.
However stating that the talks should be a two sided win - win situation, Nongtraw said, “We do not want to carry on with violence anymore. But if our appeals are not being taken seriously then we shall be bound to intensify our struggles further thereby disrupting peace.”
This came in reaction to the recent statement made by the State Home Minister, James K Sangma that the government may consider talks with HNLC only if the outfit’s cadres are willing to lay down their arms.
Nongtraw however questioned how the outfit can trust the government when they had bitter experiences in the past while adding, “For the last four years we were kept into the dark. Now we cannot take risks to lay down our arms.”
He also questioned what would happen to the ideology of the HNLC which has been fighting now for decades.
Appealing to the Home Minister to consult the various stakeholders including NGOs, pressure groups, church elders along with Khasi and Jaintia cabinet ministers, Nongtraw said, “He (James) should consult as to why should we did not get an opportunity to come to the peace negotiations like our counterpart the Achik National Volunteer council (ANVC). Will that not tantamount to being one sided and, will it not create a negative impact into the minds of our Khasi Jaintia people?”
Stating that it is a public process requiring public participation and democratic consensus, he said that the peace talks shall provide an excellent opportunity for the Meghalaya government to set up and strengthen peace in the entire region.
Nongtraw further stated that after going through the recent statement of the Home Minister, the outfit has reached the conclusion that all the past promises made by the then Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma were all fabricated lies to bring the council to the negotiating table.
“It was in the year 2004 where we had decided to give up arms and pursue peace talks with the Government. We had made our stand clear that we shall not surrender unlike other cadres in the past. Surrender is not an option anymore,” he said.
He also said that after decades of confrontation and untold suffering, the HNLC decided to have a political dialogue with the Government of India as well as the state government with the acknowledgement that the government will seek a peaceful solution, leaving aside all bitterness.
According to him, the aim of the peace talks is to address the roots of the armed conflict and not to force the surrender of the HNLC, and once that issue is addressed, many of the reasons to fight against the government would disappear.
“Any kind of political or military conflicts can only be eradicated by dialogue,” he said.