Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sinister agenda behind peace talks


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Suddenly Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is desperately anxious to hold peace talks with the once-powerful-now-defunct HNLC, a group which conducts its separatist struggle through a single Facebook account. Why on earth would he do something which, on the face of it, seems so momentously stupid and unnecessary? Is it because he has made no headway in Garo Hills and wants to divert attention to peace talks with a broken terrorist group that has little choice in the matter? Or is there a more sinister, hidden agenda? One cannot help but draw a parallel between the Sangma – HNLC peace talks and the surrender drama enacted by the Assam Government with the routed ULFA cadres. The surrendered ULFA cadres were allowed to retain arms, assigned PSOs, given cash rewards and allowed to extort without fear of arrest and prosecution. In return, they became the private army of the ruling party. They were used to settle scores against political opponents and carry out Government -sponsored assassinations. The Saikia Commission report of 2007 indicted  Prafulla Mahanta, former Chief Minister of Assam, for “secret killings” of family members of active ULFA leaders by surrendered cadres on his personal orders during 2000-01.The SULFA have since become stupendously powerful and rich through land-grabbing, extortion, illegal taxes and contract killings which continue to this day. Assam today has become the breeding ground of private armies nurtured by politicians. Enlistment into these armies happens through routine “surrenders” by obscure militant groups. I fear Meghalaya too is headed the same way, from the way events are unfolding in the political arena. For some politicians of Meghalaya, private armies are already a reality. So come on, Chief Minister, spill the beans. What is your real intention for enacting peace talks with the powerless HNLC?
Mukul Sangma’s deal with HNLC has shown that the political class has no morals or compunction to do the right thing by its citizens. The political animal can lie, cheat, betray and even kill the people it has sworn to serve for personal gain. The prospect of President’s Rule is welcome under the circumstances. The Central Government must sort out the conspiracy of politicians and genocidal extremists which is too deep-rooted for State agencies to tackle. When top bureaucrats, top politician and top cops are in cahoots with militants and shady businessmen, there is absolutely nothing anybody can do except the top leader of the nation. The Centre must first remove the political cover given to militants by imposing President’s Rule. It can then mount an army operation in Garo Hills, in the vein of Operation Bajrang (1990) in Assam which crushed the dreaded ULFA. Peace talks and rehabilitation packages for people who kill, kidnap and extort for a living must be ruled out completely. It is a regressive step in the elimination of terrorism. Unless the objective is to undermine the authority of the state and breed more criminals, any person guilty of a crime must be awarded exemplary punishment as a deterrent to others.
Yours etc.,
Jeremy Lyngdoh
New Delhi.

Baseless snigger

The letter by Joshua Rynjah captioned ‘Ethical Reportage’ (ST Sep 2, 2014) takes a myopic view of the advertisement- news report imbroglio vis-à-vis the Ishapore Rifle Factory. The IRF which operates under the Indian Ordinance Factory of the Ministry of Defence, New Delhi is a licensed manufacturer of all kinds of arms and ammunitions which are sourced by different military and security organizations of the country. The Ishapore Factory also sells guns and sporting rifles to individual buyers. There are thousands of people in this country who wish to purchase firearms for their personal security and safety and for sporting activities. Just because the State of Meghalaya and the North Eastern region as a whole is militancy afflicted does it mean that firearms sold by the legal channels should no longer be available? There are people indulging in substance abuse by using pharmaceutical drugs such as anti-spasmodics and cough syrups. Should the pharmaceutical factories stop manufacturing these medicines which otherwise help those who use them judiciously?
Some people are quick at passing remarks without looking at the bigger picture. The need for firearms remains as long as there are criminals to be tackled. As for militants getting hold of such weapons, are we blind to the fact that they have access to the best arms and ammunition from China and other European countries which are smuggled to India and to the North Eastern states through the Myanmar and Bangladesh borders. Militants use the most sophisticated AK series weapons. Those who wish to buy firearms from legal sources like the Ishapore Factory have to comply with all the legal requirements and no militant outfit would want to get into this rigmarole when they can easily get their weapons from clandestine sources provided they have the money to pay for them. And money is of course extorted from the common people! People in Garo Hills live in perpetual fear of militants and I am aware that many would want to keep a gun for personal safety.
Yours etc.,
M. Kharkongor,
Via email

RR Colony – stop the licentious parking!

Mishaps are imminent in the locality of RR Colony due to parking of both local taxis and private cars on both sides of the main road, thereby leaving no space for pedestrians to walk on and making it difficult for cars to navigate, beginning from the Dispensary to the Community Hall. Neither the administrative authority nor the Traffic Police or the local headman is bothered about this very sensitive issue. Residents of the locality and even the pedestrians of nearby localities are facing extreme problems due to this senseless attitude of the car drivers. Through your esteemed column I urge upon the administration take immediate action to avert mishaps.
Yours etc.,
Anjan Das.
Shillong- 6


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