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Meghalaya outfit shuns truce invite

Shillong, March 17: The proscribed Hynńiewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today indicated that it will not accept any invitation for peace talks from the government and vowed that the struggle would continue unabated.

“The council had already done its homework 12 years ago and now it is the turn of the state government and the Union home ministry to complete their homework too. If 12 years were not enough for the home ministry, then what could we expect out of them?” HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said in a statement to a section of the media.

The council had earlier made an offer to hold talks with the Centre. However, there was delay on the part of the political leadership in New Delhi, leaving the offer hanging in mid-air.

Nongtraw said “at this juncture” the council “does not care about invitation” by the government for peace talks.

“The state government is busy to start a peace process with the new A’chik rebel outfits as it is time for elections and a time to spend money in order to earn money. The struggle would continue unabated and with a lot of military action in the near future. The government at that juncture would be responsible for all the negative outcome,” he added.

At the same time, he said the outfit is “getting stronger” and “hundreds of youths” are showing their “eagerness” to join the HNLC in its political armed struggle.

He also clarified that the three youths who were arrested by Meghalaya police recently did not have any links with the council.

“We suspect that this is an inside job and it was just a ploy of the police to demoralise youths who wanted to join the council. These kind of false accusations would, in fact, make youths more frustrated and inclined towards the council,” Nongtraw said.

He also expressed surprise that the police remained quiet in the recent surrender of a cadre.

“It has been a week and no information regarding the surrender has been publicised by the police in the media, but it took just hours for the police to inform the media about the arrest of the youths,” he said.

However, East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M. Kharkrang said today a 2003 batch HNLC cadre, Elvis Syiemlieh alias Lungiut of Pyndengsohsaw village under Mawsynram police station, surrendered before him.

Syiemlieh had escaped from Bangladesh recently, but did not deposit any arms and ammunition, Kharkrang said.

Nongtraw said the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and counter-terrorism laws preceding it have been “widely misused” to target tribal groups, religious and ethnic minorities.

He said “corruption” has become a “booming industry” for government officials and the state is full of corrupt politicians and officers who are responsible for mass unemployment of youths in Meghalaya.

“The education scam is one of the examples where an eligible candidate could not get the job while an ineligible one got the same job by bribing. Hence, the Congress government is also responsible for unemployment, whereas the perpetrators of such scandals are roaming about scot-free in luxury vehicles with red beacons,” Nongtraw said.

He said the government, instead of generating employment, is busy generating money for its own party and its own families.

Therefore, he said, the foremost requirement is the overhauling of the existing corrupt system.

“By 2020, there will be more than 50 lakh tribals and non-tribals competing for jobs and land. In every field, competition is increasing. It is the direct output of unemployment. This can only be solved if the youths are determined to straighten this corrupt system through an armed struggle,” he added.

High population growth of “outsiders in the Hynńiewtrep” is also a major cause of concern for the ethnic minorities, Nongtraw said.

“Therefore, the growth of the Hynńiewtrep population is also necessary in order to outnumber the outsiders, and inner-line permit (ILP) is the only solution,” the HNLC publicity secretary added.