Garo Hills militant crisis: Who is to be blamed?
SHILLONG: What went wrong with Garo Hills – the topography of the region, step motherly treatment meted out by the government or unemployment?
Well, going by the confession made by the surrendered cadres of various militant outfits, it all points in one direction—lack of opportunity caused by poor governance.
If only governance in Garo Hills was as good as Shillong, the problem of militancy would have been a far cry if the confession made by the surrendered cadres is anything to go by with.
"Corruption in Garo Hills is the main reason when we decided to rebel and form AMEF," said C-in-C of AMEF Timudh D Marak said soon after surrendering before the state police here earlier today.
Does it require taking up arms to get the attention of the government both at the centre and the state?
Well, ironically, going by the confessions and what follows next, it seems the answer to the question is a big YES.
The mushrooming of militant outfits in Garo Hills is not a new issue. The fact remains that these outfits are nothing but break-away faction of the existing militant outfits operating in the region.
The government, church organisations and civil organisation had time and again called upon these militant outfits to shun violence and join the mainstream. However, other than few like the ANVC, not much progress has been seen in decades.
On the other hand, the surrendering of the leaders of AMEF, a break-away faction of GNLA, was a major boost for the Meghalaya Police. But the question is how big is this, a boost in countering the root cause of militancy in Garo Hills.
For sure, there have been and will be militant cadres surrendering, government calling out for peace talks, however, the problem will still haunt the region if the root cause which seemingly is 'under-development' caused by poor governance is not tackled.
The government both at the centre and state seems dedicated to wipe out militancy in the region for which heavy funds was sanctioned and utilised for the purpose. The question arises—What if that much of money, time and attention were spent on development by the previous governments since the attainment of statehood, perhaps things would have been different.
The confession of the surrendered cadres also reflects the education scenario in Garo Hills. Unlike the then GNLA Chairman Champion Sangma, who is highly educated person and holding the post of DSP, majority of the cadres are illiterate and drop outs.
Surrendered chairman of AMEF, Sengjan N Arengh who is a graduate said that most of the militants who are serving in different outfits are illiterate and school drop outs.
The other reasons cited by the surrendered cadres are ideological difference within the outfit, desertion, lack of confidence following the death of their fellow cadres killed in an encounter with the police or arrested.
"We were part of GNLA but later formed AMEF since we did not believed the ideology of GNLA especially because the top leaders of GNLA are busy making money," Arengh said.
When asked about the extortion money and the financial status of AMEF, the surrendered militants said many Garo Businessman gave them donation which was used for procurement of some arms, uniforms and food.
When asked about the links of AMEF with other groups, they said that they had no links with any groups but they were planning to tie up with NSCN K but it could not materialized.
The surrendered cadres also pointed out that one of the reason for their surrender was the fact that their cadres were not paying heeds to their orders which included not abducting and killing people.
(Featured Image: ProKerala)