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Cabinet to step up recruitment

- Special force for Garo hills

Shillong, Jan. 27: The Meghalaya cabinet today decided to fast-track the recruitment of personnel into the newly-created special multi-task force which will deal with insurgency, especially in the militant-infested Garo hills region of the state.

The strength of the task force, renamed “special force-10 (SF-10)” is 1,795 and its main functions include addressing and strengthening the security apparatus in the state, including intelligence gathering and combating militancy, besides other problems like riots, agitation and communal tension, disrupting peace.

According to chief minister Mukul Sangma, cadres to be inducted into SF-10 will undergo a “very special training.”

Justifying the need to have the force in place, Sangma said all these years, the state government had to run from pillar to post for getting additional security forces from the Centre to be deployed in the state for maintaining law and order.

“We are facing problems, especially when these paramilitary forces have to be withdrawn from the state in the event of any law and order or holding of elections in any other state of the country,” he said.

Sangma said the state government has also submitted a proposal to the Centre on the need to strengthen existing police stations in the state and increase investment on internal security.

“The Centre has to revisit the need to invest more on internal security as we are facing an internal war,” Sangma said.

Sangma even referred to a security threat from the Maoists, when he said all kinds of anti-establishment forces trying to initiate internal war and attempt to disrupt peace should be dealt with firmly.

“The last war witnessed was the Bangladesh Liberation War, 1971. Now there is a war inside and we need to deal this problem firmly and ensure that we have the Centre’s support by increasing investment on internal security,” Sangma stressed.

He also said if a neighbouring state (Assam) faces a problem, the threat is a potential one for the whole region. He said the security threat in the Northeast was a “complex” problem with different militant groups trying to support one another.

To a question on whether the state government has invited the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) for a dialogue, the chief minister claimed that “certain exercises are on.”

Refusing to elaborate, Sangma said, “We belong to the beautiful state of Meghalaya and we must ensure that there is a peaceful environment.”

Yesterday, Meghalaya governor K.K. Paul who unfurled the Tricolour here on the occasion of Republic Day, said the state government has offered a path of dialogue to the GNLA and urge upon the outfit’s leadership to consider the offer seriously.