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Shillong meet calls for Garo hills peace

Shillong, June 7: A section of students hailing from the strife-torn Garo hills feel that bringing Meghalaya under President’s rule or deployment of the army to flush out those who wield power through the barrel of gun would do no good.

This was the sentiment of those who took part in a prayer meeting today at Khyndailad here.

It was organised by the Garo Students’ Union (GSU), Khasi hills zone, All India Garo Union (AIGU) and the Maharashtra A’chik Youth Association to show solidarity with the family of Jospin M. Sangma, the 35-year-old woman who was murdered by militants in South Garo Hills on Tuesday.

“The Centre should intervene but not by imposing President’s rule or deploying army personnel to restore peace and harmony in the Garo hills,” GSU (Khasi hills zone) general secretary, Zikku B. Marak, told reporters at the gathering.

The government, he said, should send the “best officers” to the strife-torn region to supervise the administration.

He said the administration in the Garo hills has “totally failed” and people are being “sandwiched” between security forces and militants.

The Opposition in Meghalaya has been demanding the resignation of chief minister Mukul Sangma and advocated the imposition of President’s rule following the alleged deterioration in law and order in the state, particularly in the Garo hills.

Yesterday, the Meghalaya Assembly witnessed an animated debate on law and order with most of the Opposition legislators asking the chief minister to pave way for the imposition of central rule.

The fragile law and order situation, Marak said, has deterred students from the region who are pursuing their studies elsewhere from returning home to Meghalaya.

“Most of the students prefer not to come back to the Garo hills in view of the killings, serving of extortion notes and kidnappings,” he said. People in the region “live in fear”, he added.

Moreover, the GSU demanded that the government should pay at least Rs 7 lakh to Jospin’s family and wanted the government to provide free education to her four children till graduation.

The youth association general secretary, Amsrang D. Momin, who is pursuing his studies in Pune, said the prevailing situation in the region prevented him from visiting his parents at Damas village in North Garo Hills.

Momin is on vacation but is staying back in Shillong with relatives as his parents advised him not to travel to Damas.

Momin said in Maharashtra alone, there could be around 200 students hailing from the Garo hills.

“If the government is serious, there will be no terrorists in the Garo hills and peace will prevail,” he added.

AIGU president Elberth Marak said the common refrain from the gathering was the government should hold talks with militant groups in order to restore peace.