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Call for unity to tackle militancy

Shillong, June 13: Meghalaya home minister Roshan Warjri today appealed to legislators to “rise above political affiliations” to tackle militancy in the state.

The call comes on the heels of the gruesome murder of Jospin M. Sangma, 35, by the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) on June 3.

Meghalaya, which was ranked as one of the “least developed” states in the country by a panel headed by present RBI governor Raghuram Rajan last year, is confronted with several handicaps, some of them as old as the state itself. But the over-emphasis on law and order, especially when once strife-torn states like Mizoram are experiencing tranquillity, has been starkly predominant.

Insurgency, especially the proliferation of militant outfits in Garo hills that has rendered the law and order situation fragile, has consistently dominated proceedings in the Assembly for the past five years. In the current re-assembled budget session too, Opposition legislators have, since Day One, been speaking of the deteriorating law and order in the state’s western region. Several references have been made to Jospin’s murder.

Speaking on the penultimate day of the current session, Warjri outlined the various steps the government has been initiating to stem the problem and emphasised the need for all legislators to work together to improve the law and order situation and restore peace and normalcy.

“The time and hour has come to restore peace in the state’s western range, and therefore, we need to rise above political affiliations,” Warjri told the Assembly while replying to a cut motion tabled by NPP legislator James P.K. Sangma.

With more than half-a-dozen militant outfits creating terror in the five districts of Garo hills and in the vicinity of West Khasi Hills and South West Khasi Hills districts, Warjri’s stress on the need to overlook one’s political affiliation is imperative.

The House has 60 members — 24 of them from the Garo hills — belonging to the Congress, the UDP, the HSPDP, the NPP and the Garo National Council, besides Independents.

Earlier, while giving specific replies to the legislator’s queries, the home minister said a state-level standing committee had been formed under the chairmanship of the state’s chief secretary for counter-insurgency operations. A subsidiary multi-agency centre has also been put in place to activate the intelligence machinery for credible intelligence gathering.

Besides intensive long-range patrolling, raid on suspected hideouts and arrest of suspected militant linkmen have been stepped up. More than a dozen companies from the central paramilitary forces are also being deployed.

On the modernisation of police force, Warjri said since 2012-13, the Union home ministry has revised the funding pattern where states like Meghalaya are made to contribute 10 per cent share towards the scheme. Earlier, Meghalaya was eligible for 100 per cent funding by the Centre.

An effective day-to-day coordination with Assam for checking militant activities in the border areas is also being taken up, she added.