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Rebel nexus salvo at CM

- Purno calls Mukul ‘militant chairman’

Shillong, Jan. 16: National People’s Party president Purno Agitok Sangma today fired a volley of salvos at Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma and labelled him the “common chairman” of all militant groups operating in the Garo hills.

“Who is the chairman of ANVC (B)? Who is the chairman of ANVC? Who is the chairman of GNLA? I think it is only one person called Mukul. Yes, I charge it. He is the common chairman of all militant groups,” the former Lok Sabha Speaker told reporters here.

The allegation comes a few days after the chief minister categorically denied having any link with militant groups.

The allegation that the chief minister was close to A’chik National Volunteers’ Council (B) chairman Rimpu Marak was first levelled by the breakaway faction’s political secretary Ajaju Marak on January 10. The outfit denied the allegation the next day.

Speaking on criminalisation of politics today, the former Lok Sabha MP from Tura, said, “In Meghalaya, everything is going merrily. What can be the worst criminalisation of politics than the chief minister himself being involved with militancy?”

He said he would lead a delegation to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and the leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to apprise them of the law and order situation in Garo hills and Ajaju’s revelations.

The NPP demanded a CBI or an NIA probe on the politician-militant nexus as well as Mukul’s resignation, but Purno Sangma sounded pessimistic when asked whether the UPA government would initiate action. “I know time is very short and there may not be any action but by the middle of May a new government is going to be installed in New Delhi and I can assure that the next government will take cognisance,” he said. He added that a report of the Union home ministry had said the law and order situation in the Garo hills was the worst in the country.

On the chief minister denying having any link with the ANVC (B), Purno Sangma shot back: “Which politician will say yes I am linked with militant groups? But evidence is there, proof is there and the people whom he has used are revealing that they did whatever he instructed them. What more proof do you require?”

“I would like to know what is the locus standi of the ANVC (B). The ceasefire agreement was signed in 2004 when there was only one ANVC. Then came a split in the ANVC and ANVC (B) was formed. So, ANVC (B) is not ANVC. It has become a separate identity and there is no ceasefire agreement between ANVC (B) and the Centre,” he said.

The NPP chief alleged that the Meghalaya government had “deliberately misled” the Centre and “illegally and unconstitutionally” invited the ANVC (B) to the peace talks.

Alleging that law, ethics and the Constitution do not apply in Meghalaya, Purno Sangma said, “It is the wish of the chief minister which applies in Meghalaya. It is very dangerous.”

Earlier, the state government had said that Rimpu had signed the “agreed text of settlement” in January last year as a member of the ANVC and that the ANVC (B) cadres were made part of the settlement process after receiving necessary directives from both the Union and state governments.

In a statement issued today, ANVC (B) “publicity secretary” Doang D. Shira said, “When we signed the draft agreement, we were told there was no need for another truce agreement as we were being clubbed with the ANVC ceasefire agreement.”

Denying the allegations levelled by Ajaju, the chief minister had said on Tuesday, “It indicates that some vested interests who have hatched a political conspiracy, have penetrated the ANVC (B) to further their political ploy against the chief minister and my government.”

He said he had always maintained that politician-militant nexus could not be ruled out but in the absence of substantive evidence, the government could not legally proceed with such allegations.

He added that he was one of the very few politicians who did not have any links with militant groups.