Govt offers conditional talks proposal to HNLC, GNLA

Speaker AT Mondal and Chief Minister Mukul Sangma receive Meghalaya Governor Keshari  Nath Tripathi at the State Assembly premises on the first day  of the Budget session on Monday.   (ST)
Speaker AT Mondal and Chief Minister Mukul Sangma receive Meghalaya Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at the State Assembly premises on the first day of the Budget session on Monday. (ST)

SHILLONG: Meghalaya Governor Keshari  Nath Tripathi has made a conditional talks offer to both HNLC and GNLA by saying that commitment of the Government to have dialogue  with the militant outfit remains, provided they give up their  anti-national stance and abjure violence.
Addressing the opening day of the Budget session on Monday, the Governor said that  inspite of the  positive intent shown by the Government , certain outfits such as GNLA and HNLC continue to indulge in anti-national  and criminal activities.
“Our State is confronted by many challenges to internal security, peace and order. The Government is determined to overcome these challenges and thwart the attempts of misguided elements to cause disturbance and disorder”, he said.
According to the Governor, a multi-pronged strategy has been adopted to deal with the situation .
“With those groups which have entered into dialogue with the Government, peace settlements have been reached. For those inclined to have talks, the Government has designated interlocutors for negotiation. And for those elements that continue with their nefarious anti-national and criminal activities, the Government reiterates its firm resolve to tackle such activities with the full might of the State,” he said.
Tripathi said the Government has invested heavily in upgrading the security infrastructure and a new battalion of specially trained and equipped commando force is also being raised. “Despite various challenges, the law and order situation has, by and large, remained stable”, the Governor said.
He  also appreciated the stand of the people  of Meghalaya in  defying and even resisting  the calls given by militant outfits for boycott and bandhs
Tripathi said it was after the prolonged negotiations that a memorandum of settlement was signed with ANVC-ANVC-B on September 24 at New Delhi and the two outfits have since been disbanded.
“The Central Government had advised us to defer the elections to GHADC so that the requisite amendment to sixth schedule of the Constitution could be carried out during the Budget session of the Parliament”, the Governor said.
Tripathi said that this is reflective of the intent of the Central Government also to see the full and expeditious implementation of the accord, and the state government has been pursuing this regularly with the Centre.
Ratification of  Protocol with B’desh
On the Indo-Bangladesh Border, the Governor said that the State Government has been urging  the Centre to ratify the Protocol signed with Bangladesh so that people on both sides are able to derive the potential socio- economic benefits that a well defined and settled border offers.
He also said that the situation on the inter-state border with Assam has remained largely peaceful. A robust system of interactions at regular intervals between the district level officials of the two states has been put in place to address occasional stray incidents. The efforts to find a lasting solution to this festering problem through negotiations will continue earnestly.
Anti-influx mechanism
The  Governor further said that the  Government has been working seriously on evolving comprehensive mechanisms to deal with the problem of infiltration and influx. Civil society organisations have been actively associated in this endeavour.
“A Committee has identified the locations to set up facilitation centres where the movement of visitors is sought to be verified. Another Committee headed by the Deputy Chief Minister has submitted its report recently, which will be considered by the Government on priority”, the Governor said.
In this regard, completion of the Indo-Bangladesh border fencing is also of crucial importance, the Governor said urging all the stakeholders to extend their cooperation and allow the fencing work to be undertaken in those portions where it has been stalled on account of objections from local quarters.
Apart from preventing criminal activities such as theft, dacoity, and abductions from across the border, this project is also of immense national interest, the Governor added.

Assembly snippets

An unforgetful laughter  
For the members of the House, who were closely associated with late Chokpot legislator Clifford Marak, one thing which they will cherish forever is his laughter in and outside the Assembly. During the obituary reference, Independent legislator John Leslee Sangma, while recalling an incident said that Clifford laughed instead of getting angry during a raid in his house in the past.  “When he gets angry, he laughs. His relatives told me that this is the secret of the legislator remaining calm always”, Sangma said in the Assembly. Martin Danggo of the Congress also echoed the same by stating that the House is missing his laughter. “He laughed from the Heart, added Metbah Lyngdoh (UDP)

Guv salutes decorum
The Meghalaya Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi has appreciated the decorum and dignity in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. The Speaker AT Mondal said that the Governor had shared his experience to him that compared to the Assemblies in the rest of India, Meghalaya Legislative Assembly stands apart. Earlier, in his address, the Governor said, “Meghalaya Legislative Assembly is reputed for its sense of decorum and dignity. I salute the founding Members of this august Assembly for setting such high standards of discourse and healthy traditions and conventions of conduct”.

M-TAB  reference missing
The Governor has avoided any reference to distribution of M-tabs to the students in the budget speech. Touching upon the various aspects of Information Technology, the Governor only said that the Government has been aggressively pursuing its plan towards reducing the digital divide. There was controversy over the distribution of M-tabs following the RTI findings on the alleged irregularities in the purchase of the tablets for the students. However, the Governor announced that free Wi-Fi connectivity will be provided to all higher secondary schools in the State and an agreement has been signed with BSNL in this regard.
A few lines for several departments
While the Governor’s address is related to the various programmes and policies of the Government, only three lines were mentioned about the Election department in the speech. “The general elections to 16th   Lok Sabha,2014 was conducted successfully in the state on April 9. The elections in the state were peaceful due to the effective maintenance of law and order. The voter turnout was 68.84%” was the only mention in the Budget speech under Election department. The departments like Arts and Culture, Border Area Development and Prisons also did not get much space.

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