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FROM THE EDITOR’s DESK:
Meghalaya is a state in North East India that attained statehood in 1972 following peaceful and non-violent movements back in the late 60s and early 70s.
A proud legacy indeed, but what came next altered the socio-economic scenario of the state to a large extent.
Back in the late 80s and early 90s, ethnic clashes dominated the social landscape in Meghalaya, and not long after that, militants took centre stage.
The emergence of prominent militant outfits in the state namely the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) in Khasi Hills, the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) in Garo Hills in the late 90s, had landed the state in complicated situations on several occasions.
Fast forward to the present day, militancy is a thing of the past in the once insurgency-torn state of Meghalaya.
The dismantling of the HNLC in the early 2000s, the disbandment of the ANVC in 2014 and, the end of the GNLA following the death of its commander-in-chief, Sohan D Shira in 2018, had ushered in a new beginning.
Aside from new challenges with communal clashes and demand for Inner Line Permit (ILP) being the most pertinent issues of late, militancy no longer sends shivers down our spines.
On the contrary, calls for peace talks are now more relevant.
Much like the ANVC, the HNLC too has expressed its willingness to join the mainstream but, with certain conditions – rehabilitation packages and all the perks that come with it.
Since the tenure of the Congress government, discussions were held on how to resolve this issue once and for all.
In continuation, the present Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) has time and again, reiterated its stand on militancy – Surrender first, shun violence and talk later - much to the dismay of the proscribed HNLC.
Recently, cabinet minister and BJP leader, A.L Hek had stated that the Centre is keen to hold peace talks with the HNLC and mentioned that he would be submitting a report to the Centre very soon.
He also expressed optimism of reaching an understanding between the government of India, the government of Meghalaya and the HNLC.
However, we have witnessed that while the talks with the Centre on the issue is still underway, the HNLC, which is operating remotely from Bangladesh, is still engaged in militant activities.
The recent IED blasts in East Jaintia Hills district could only mean that they can no longer wait for the official trilateral talks or maybe they are just flexing their muscles, to prove that they are still alive and kicking.
Either way, proving one’s strength is not something that the state needs right now.
What Meghalaya needs is peace and prosperity, especially after such a long and exhausting year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.