The Meghalaya government has made it clear that it would not negotiate with militant groups unless they shun the path of violence.
Reply to a query raised by Opposition chief whip, P.T. Sawkmie during question hour on the third day of the budget session of the Assembly on Tuesday, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said, “We are not saying ‘no’ to peace but there is a process that we need to follow, and the government is clear on its stand that we will not negotiate with any militant groups, unless they lay down arms.”
Sawkmie had sought to know from the state government in the House if any proposal has been made by the government to invite all militants in the state for a ‘Round Table Talk’.
The Chief Minister while informing the Assembly the state government was not closing its doors but at the same time cannot allow anyone to come with arms inside the house said, “unless they (militants) shun the path of violence, we cannot hold talks with them.”
Sawkmie repeatedly asked the government why it was ‘reluctant’ to call militants to the negotiation table because inviting them to the negotiating table would ensure a long lasting peace in the state.
Meanwhile, Congress legislator from East Shillong constituency, Ampareen Lyngdoh sought to know from the government about the rehabilitation package in the event that any militant outfit expressing desire to come over ground and join the mainstream.
She also referred to the ANVC peace talk few years back which according to her, the rehabilitation package has yielded positive results.
O this, the Chief Minister said that if that is the case, there is a package of 1 and a half lakh and Rs 3000 stipend per month while adding that a screening committee headed by the Director General of Police will be put in place to screen the eligibility of cadres for availing the rehabilitation package.
Conrad also said that militancy “is not a problem but it is an outcome of the problem, that is the socio-economic problem.”
“We need a multi-pronged approach to deal with this problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, lone NCP legislator Saleng sangma said that when militants decided to join the main stream, those involved in convincing them to come over ground such as NGOs and Church leaders should also follow up the condition and status of the surrendered militants.
Stating that the cadres who have come overground might go back to jungles if they were neglected, Saleng said, “Militants like Sohan D. Shira when he was with the ANVC, had given up arms and joined the mainstream. But when there was no follow-up or any kind of counselling or support, Sohan and other militants went back to jungles.”
Sohan, who was the leader of the Garo National Liberation Army, was killed recently.
“May be the previous Congress-led government was careless, and I don’t want the present government to be careless and follow the footsteps of the previous government,” he said.