By Our Reporter, Shillong News | Shillong, March 20, 2018:
The government of Meghalaya on Tuesday reiterated its stance on militancy stating that the government is not negotiating with militant groups unless they shun the path of violence.
In a reply to a query raised by Opposition chief whip PT Sawkmie during the question hour on the third day of the budget session on Tuesday, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said “We are not saying ‘No’ to peace but there is a process which we need to follow and the government is clear on its stand that we will not negotiate with any militant group.”
Sawkmie had raised the question on whether any proposal has been made by the government to invite all the militants in the state for ‘Round Table Talk’.
Maintaining that the government wants peace in the state, Conrad however said that unless they (militants) shun the path of violence, the government cannot hold talks with them. “We are not closing our doors or windows but we cannot allow anyone to come with arms inside the house,” he said.
The congress legislator had earlier sought for a clarification from the government regarding its ‘reluctance’ to call the militants to the negotiation table stating that inviting the militant outfits to the table will ensure a long lasting peace in the state.
Meanwhile, Congress legislator from East Shillong constituency, Ampareen Lyngdoh has sought for an answer from the government on the availability of a rehabilitation package in the event of any militant outfit expressing eagerness to come over ground and join the mainstream while referring to the ANVC peace talks few years back which according to her, has yielded positive results.
Replying to the supplementary question raised by Lyngdoh, the chief minister said that if that is the case, then definitely, there is a package while adding that a screening committee headed by the Director General of Police will be put in place to screen the eligibility of the cadre for availing the rehabilitation package.
Regarding the suggestion made by the East Shillong legislator on the need to involve everyone in the house to resolve this problem even as she termed this as an ‘all-house’ affair, Conrad said “We will look into the aspect.”
Furthermore, the chief minister said that militancy is not the problem but it is an outcome of the problem and that is socio-economic problem. “We need a multi-pronged approach to deal with this problem,” he added.
Meanwhile, lone NCP legislator Saleng sangma trained all guns at the Congress and advocators like NGOs and Church leaders for not following up with the condition and status of the surrenderees stating that this has resulted in a turn- around whereby many cadres who have come overground have returned back to the jungles.
Referring to Sohan D Shira’s case, Saleng said that while Sohan was with the ANVC, he had given up arms and socialized but there was no follow-up nor was there any kind of counseling or psychological support given to the surrendered cadres and ultimately, many of them returned back to the jungle including Sohan, who ever since had been engaged in militant activities till the day he was killed.
“Maybe the previous government led by the Congress was careless and I don’t want this present government to be careless and follow the footsteps of the previous governments,” he said.