Representative image. Source - Internet

Following Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma’s recent assertion that the State Government would start the process of peace talks with the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) only after the outfit lays down arms, the HNLC reacting on Thursday stated “any kind of political or military conflicts can only be eradicated by dialogue”.

Stating that in 2004 they had decided to give up arms and pursue peace talks with the Government, Sai?kupar Nongtraw, Publicity Secretary, HNLC, in a press communiqué stated, “We had made our stand clear that we shall not surrender unlike other cadres in the past. Surrender is not an option anymore.”

It may be mentioned regarding peace talks with the banned HNLC, Home Minister James Sangma recently said, “They (HNLC) must shun violence and come forward to say that they are laying arms and then only we will think about having talks.”

Admitting that many civil society groups in Northeast have played key roles in the conflict management and resolution process, the HNLC Publicity Secretary stated, “We had also anticipated that our people including NGOs and pressure groups, church elders would develop a stake in the peace process and become a part of the mechanism for maintaining them. It is a public process requiring public participation and democratic consensus. The peace talks shall provide an excellent opportunity for the Meghalaya government to set up and strengthen peace in the entire region.”

However expressing doubt over the invitation of the government to peace talks, the HNLC stated, “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 into the dark. Now we cannot take risks to lay down our arms.”

The Meghalaya militant outfit has urged the Home Minister to consult the various stakeholders, NGOs, pressure groups, church elders along with Khasi and Jaintia Cabinet Ministers regarding why they should not get an opportunity to come to the peace negotiations like Achik National Volunteer Council(ANVC).

On a positive note, the outfit stated that after decades of confrontation and untold sufferings, the HNLC decided to have political dialogue with the Government of India as well as the GoM as they acknowledge 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,” the HNLC stated adding that “frequent negotiations have, indeed, emerged as a successful tool of conflict management in the northeast”.

Stating that many lives have been lost and much blood has been spilled and lots of hard works have gone for ensuring the return of peace to the region, it further stated, “Any kind of political or military conflicts can only be eradicated by dialogue.”

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