SHILLONG; April 21: The Union Government is considering to go one step at a time in as far as initiating peace talks with militant groups in the state is concerned.
While the Home Ministry is presently engaged in discussions the fulfilment of the Agreed Text of Settelment (ATS) with ANVC and ANVC – B, it is however, not considering any further proposals to initiate talks with other militant groups at this juncture.
Addressing newsmen here in the city, Joint Secretary Home in-charge North East, Satyendra Garg said that the Government of India is not considering any other proposal at this moment to initiate talks with any militant groups.
When enquired about the centre’s will to initiate talks with other banned militant outfits of the state like the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) and Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, Garg said, “If the need be yes, but the question is at this moment we don’t have a proposal. There are certain groups the state government may be talking to them and I think if things come through, good enough but GOI at this point is not actively considering any further proposals”.
He further added, “Peace negotiation – unless it is at that level. The centre does not intervene. I am sure the state government assess the situation and accordingly they take care of it, but if the centre’s intervention is required at any level that of course comes, but ground rules are simple, first of all people have to absolve violence, they have to abide by the constitution”.
It may be recalled that Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had earlier said there would be no more political dialogue with any militant outfit, but militants would be pursued to come overground as previous experiences to hold political talks with militant outfits, have “burnt fingers. The chief minister had also in an attempt to re-strategise the government’s approach to deal with the mushrooming of militant groups, had offered a one-time peace settlement with all militant groups active in the state.
Two major outfits of Meghalaya, the A’chik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC) and its breakaway faction, the ANVC (B), were formally disbanded at a public ceremony; however other active prominent militant groups like the GNLA and HNLC are yet to hold any talks with the government.
Meanwhile, the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has given one month ultimatum to the state government to come clear in its stand on taking up peace initiative with the outfit. In a recent statement, the HNLC had expressed it resentment towards the state government and the Chief Minister Mukul Sangma for its failure to appoint any interlocutor for the last one year to discuss peace across the table.
The outfit has also stated that it will directly approach the Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi if the government of Meghalaya finds it difficult to take initiative for peace talks.
HNLC has also claimed that though it has been expressing its will to come to the negotiating table, it was being provoked by the police department to take up violence.