The people of Garo Hills have given their verdict against oppression by an armed group – the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA). This militant group headed by a former cop and now under the control of a mindless, ruthless killer who calls himself the military strategist of the GNLA called a five day bandh last week which ended on Saturday last. The outfit wanted to exert pressure on the Government to call of its offensive against them. The Government is adamant to neutralise the armed group which has been functioning like the mafia. In this stand-off the common people have been caught in the crossfire. People put up with the shenanigans of the GNLA for a while. A general climate of fear, uncertainty had prevented people from coming together. But people were agitated and this was expressed by several letters to newspapers where people literally questioned the locus standi of the GNLA. However, the people have also expressed their disaffection with their elected representatives who they felt had literally abandoned them to the elements. In fact, what is witnessed is a war of words and a blame game between the ruling parties in the government and the opposition parties. There also seems to be a difference of ideology among political parties as to how the GNLA is to be tackled. In this regard an all party meet on how to tackle militancy should have been called and a common strategy adopted. This would have ended the blame game.
Militants have taken advantage of the lack of consensus among political parties to launch their brand of violence on the unsuspecting population of Garo Hills. However, It was a matter of time before people would stand up against the GNLA’s strong-arm tactics. It is heartening to note that different civil society and church bodies of Garo Hills have come together to protest the atrocities unleashed by the GNLA by suspending their freedom of movement and right to livelihood. The poor, in several villages of Garo Hills were at starvation point. Thankfully, the district administration intervened and sent rice and other food items to the distant villages. That was a remarkable intervention by the administration. But what is mind boggling is the total absence of any human empathy by the GNLA for the people they claim to represent. This is a gross miscalculation by the militants. It has backfired. The people must now stand united and continue to challenge dictatorship in any form. After all we are still democracy!