File photo of HNLC cadres.

The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) on Sunday announced that it is ready for peace talks even within the ambit of the Constitution of India to regain the respect and recognition as a “Nation”.

Sainkupar Nongtraw, general secretary of HNLC, in a statement on Sunday afternoon, said from 2004, they have been expressing their willingness to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream.

“Unfortunately, nothing has materialized,” Nongtraw, who is also the publicity secretary of HNLC, said, adding that they should be given a platform to voice our concerns.

The Ministry of Home Affairs of November 18, had issued fresh orders banning the HNLC under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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“Time and again, we have sent communique through various electronic media expressing our willingness to come to the negotiating table. Till date there have been no developments at all,” Nongtraw said.

The HNLC leader said the lukewarm response from the government clearly states that neither the government wants peace nor do they want them (the insurgents) to be peaceful.

“This attitude of the government has sent a negative response to us and our council,” the HNLC leader said, adding that the “attitude” has made them believe that peace talks are a far cry, and hence bloodshed should carry on.

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Nongtraw said HNLC’s objective of achieving peace is about resolving the conflict without violence.

“We are ready for peace talks within the ambit of the Constitution of India or even outside the Constitution as per requirements,” the insurgent leader, said, adding that they have been fighting for political equality.

As India has a parliament, the Hynniewtrep land should also have own parliament, own flag, own Constitution and Supreme Court, Nongtraw demanded, adding, “This is equality that the HNLC wants.”

The HNLC leader said their demands are legitimate, and the objective is to end the battle, at this point of time.

“We believe that we can achieve whatever we want, and that can only be possible through peaceful means,” Nongtraw said.

The HNLC leader said his organization also believes in the wisdom of listening, the power of participation and the strength of informed dialogue to build an understanding and trust between the Meghalaya government and the Centre.

“We believe that opening and sustaining the space for dialogue and consensus building would lead to the peaceful resolution of the age old conflict that has been going on for the last three decades,” he said.

Nongtraw said it was high time for the Centre, Meghalaya government and the HNLC to lay aside the prejudices and biases, to be able to find a common ground for peace to flourish.

“At this point, we express our faith in the government and we do believe that we could strengthen our relation after getting positive responses from the governments end,” the HNLC leader maintained.

Nongtraw said they are hopeful for a positive response from the Centre and the State government on the offer of peace.

“Our central command believes that simply surrendering will be a big blow to the principles aims and objectives that we had firmly stood upon. We are now looking forward to give up our arms struggle and concentrate on political dialogue,” he said.

The HNLC leader said it now depends on the Centre and Meghalaya government whether they take the offer for peace talks seriously and implement it with their honest efforts.

“And if doesn’t materialize, we don’t mind continuing our struggle because we neither lack manpower nor money power nor the firepower,” Nongtraw said.

The HNLC leader claimed if they have the willingness to come forward to the negotiating table, they also have the dedication to further strengthen the armed movement, without even hesitating to press the trigger.

“This is the era of sophisticated weapons and we do not lack in this field either,” Nongtraw said, adding that now the ball is now in the governments’ court, and they hope for either a positive outcome or a negative comeback.

Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: