|UDP president Donkupar Roy addresses the central executive committee meeting at his residence in Shillong on Wednesday; (above) members of the party attend the meeting. Pictures by UB Photos
Shillong, Sept. 26: The United Democratic Party today alleged that the arrest of Garo National Liberation Army chairman Champion R. Sangma was stage-managed and that there was a nexus between a segment of the militant group and a section in the ruling Congress.
“The state government lacks firmness in dealing with the GNLA chairman as he is yet to be booked under the provisions of the Meghalaya Preventive Detention Act,” Paul Lyngdoh, working president and legislator of UDP, which is part of the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government, told reporters after the party’s central executive committee meeting here. The meet discussed militant-politician nexus, among other things.
“The act is arbitrarily applied. The government is quick to book NGO leaders and petty criminals under it, but not Champion. If G.H. Kharshanlor, an NGO leader, was booked under the act for calling a 12-hour bandh, why is there a delay in booking Champion under the same act? What is the home minister waiting for?” he asked.
“The manner in which Champion was arrested, the way he was immediately put under police custody and subsequently under judicial custody without applying the provisions of the act, provides enough room to suspect that his arrest was stage-managed,” Lyngdoh said.
He said the treatment Champion was getting after his arrest was not commensurate with his criminal involvement, which only confirms the complicity of the Congress with the GNLA.
“We suspect a nexus between a section of the GNLA and a section of the Congress,” Lyngdoh, who is also the UDP spokesperson, said. “The Union home secretary will be intimated about the militant-politician nexus,” he added.
The party resolved to urge the government to bring about a permanent solution to the militancy problem and to initiate dialogues with militant groups in the state.
Champion, who was reportedly arrested along the Indo-Bangladesh border in East Khasi Hills district on July 30, had last week declared that his outfit would support the Congress in the 2013 Assembly polls and he would himself contest the election.
“We are opposed to criminals entering the electoral fray as that would subvert democracy,” Lyngdoh said.
Yesterday, the Meghalaya Congress had distanced itself from Champion’s declaration of support. “The party, at no stage, had entered into any negotiation on such a matter. The Congress is immune to rhetoric aimed at maligning its impeccable time-tested ideals, principles and values,” PCC president D.D. Lapang had clarified.
The UDP also opposed the railway line to Shillong, saying it would aggravate the problem of influx. The government had recently informed the Assembly that the Centre had sanctioned a railway line from Byrnihat in Ri Bhoi district to Shillong and that it would be completed by March 2018.
“We are opposed to the idea of having a railway line to Shillong as this will not only bring about large-scale influx but will also destroy the ecology. We demand that the railway line should be re-surveyed,” Lyngdoh said. On whether the party was opposed to goods trains also, he said the party would oppose the project since the state was reeling under influx.
The UDP said the party was “perturbed” by the unabated flow of illegal migrants into the state and demanded a strong mechanism to check the influx.
“Influx has threatened the demographic profile, peace and security of the state,” he said, adding that the party deplored the state home department’s lack of seriousness on the matter.
The UDP failed to reach a consensus on building a pre-poll alliance with other parties in the meeting.
“There were divergent and contradictory views. We have decided that the process of churning views will go on till we take a final call,” Lyngdoh said.
The party also decided to field Jemino Mawthoh from Nongthymmai constituency. The decision was made after Latiplang Kharkongor, another contender, agreed to let Mawthoh contest the polls.
On whether the UDP would pull out from the MUA government, Lyngdoh said, “We will register our protests with the government and things will be taken to their logical end within a reasonable time frame. One should read between the lines.”