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Govt ready to hold peace talks

Shillong, March 10: The Meghalaya government today indicated that it was willing to hold peace talks with the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) after the “terrorist organisation” stated that it was prepared to have talks with governor Krishan Kant Paul.

Replying to a call attention motion brought by Chokpot legislator Clifford R. Marak in the Assembly, home minister Roshan Warjri said it was necessary to take the process forward after the statements from the GNLA.

In his Republic Day address, the governor had appealed to the GNLA to come forward and hold peace talks with the government. GNLA “commander-in-chief” Sohan D. Shira had demanded the release of the outfit’s chairman, Champion R. Sangma, who is lodged in jail, in order to set the peace talks rolling.

As the GNLA is a proscribed outfit, Warjri said the state government would need to work out the modalities with the Centre in order to facilitate the interaction between the government and the militant group.

In the early part of 2012, the Centre had declared the GNLA, which was formed in the later part of 2009, as a “terrorist organisation” while its chairman was “arrested” from the Indo-Bangladesh border on July 30, 2012.

Stating that force alone may not be the only solution to end militancy, Warjri said it was necessary for the government to explore other options of finding an enduring and lasting solution to the problem of insurgency.

At the same time, the home minister said as the final settlement with the ANVC is at an advanced stage, it would be an “opportune moment” to explore the possibility of bringing all other militant groups also on board.

Therefore, she appealed to all militant outfits in the state to come forward with an “open mind” and accept the offer for talks with the government for restoring peace and harmony.

Earlier, she said the GNLA continues to indulge in unlawful activities causing obstruction to development projects and programmes, thereby causing immense hardship to the local population in the areas it operates, posing a serious threat to internal security and integrity of the state and the nation.