By Our Reporter, Shillong News | Shillong, May 10, 2018:
Days after Meghalaya Home Minister, James K Sangma reiterated the government’s stance on militancy — ‘No surrender, no talks’, the Khasi Hills-based militant outfit — Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) on Thursday has accused the government of being ‘one-sided’ for not providing the same opportunity to negotiate like their counterpart — the Achik National Volunteer council (ANVC) while maintaining that “Surrender is not an option anymore.”
Reacting to the home minister’s remark on the issue, HNLC publicity secretary, Sainkupar Nongtraw questioned as to why should they not get an opportunity to come to the peace negotiations like the ANVC. “Will that not tantamount to being one sided and, will it not create a negative impact in the minds of our Khasi-Jaintia people?” questioned the HNLC, in a press release issued to the media here on Thursday.
“After going through the recent statements made by the Home minister James Sangma, we have reached to a conclusion that all the past promises made by the then Governor and Dr Mukul Sangma were all fabricated lies to bring our council to the negotiating table,” Nongtraw said.
He recalled that it was in the year 2004 when the HNLC 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 added.
Underlining that the invitation of the government, at this juncture, has injected doubts into their minds, Nongtraw said “We are told to surrender and only after surrendering shall the government talk. How can we trust the government when we had bitter experiences in the past? For the last four years we were kept in the dark.”
Stating that they cannot take risks to lay down arms, the HNLC publicity secretary called upon the Home minister to consult the matter with various stake holders– NGOs, pressure groups, church elders along with Khasi and Jaintia cabinet ministers and to ensure that it turns out to be a two-sided win-win situation.
Furthermore, he stated that the HNLC had decided to have political dialogue with the Government of India as well as the state government as they were of the view that the government will seek a peaceful solution, leaving aside all bitterness.
“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, much of the reason to fight against the government would disappear,” added Nongtraw.
Stating that frequent negotiations have, indeed, emerged as a successful tool of conflict management in the Northeast, Nongtraw said that any kind of political or military conflicts can only be eradicated by dialogue adding that this is the right time for the government to show its positive side as “We are ready to come forward to reach for an amicable solution. We do not want to carry on with violence anymore. 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.”
“The peace talks shall provide an excellent opportunity for the Meghalaya government to set up and strengthen peace in the entire region,” he added.