| Chief minister Mukul Sangma in Shillong on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Aug. 14: Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma today asserted that there is a threat to destabilise the nation through the Northeast while stating that the state is going through “challenging and difficult times” in view of the prevailing situation in the Garo hills.
Sangma, who chaired a meeting of the State Security Commission here, was of the view that all governments in the region should work together with the support of the Centre to tackle the law and order situation and threats head-on.
“According to intelligence inputs, a huge amount of arms is now available across the Northeast. Where are these guns coming from? That means there is some formidable anti-national force working overtime, and that is why these guns and explosives are coming. This needs to be addressed jointly by all the state governments and the Centre,” the chief minister told reporters after the meeting.
While Sangma disagreed that the Centre is castigating the state on the law and order situation, he said, “Stop the guns from coming, and I will stop all the criminal activities in my state. Whose job it is to take care of the international border? Therefore, there is no room for blame game. There is room to pool in all our resources and might. There is a complete synergy in our efforts (state and Centre) to tackle the problem.”
Reacting to the current situation in the Garo hills, he said there is a “criminal mind” working to “paralyse” the economy of the state. “Why are they targeting the banks and worker of a petrol pump? These are crucial public sectors. That means there is a smart mind operating, which we will have to jointly investigate. We will have to share all the inputs and investigate aggressively,” he added.
He also said many more investigations would help unravel the “conspiracy”. “This is not a problem of Meghalaya, but a national problem because there is a threat to destabilise the nation through the Northeast.”
For the past few days, branches of the State Bank of India located in the Garo hills region had shut down to protest against the abduction of a bank assistant attached with the Gasuapara branch in the South Garo Hills.
The cold-blooded murder of a petrol pump attendant near Tura in West Garo Hills led to the shutting down of other petrol pumps in the region to protest against the incident. There is also a threat to stop the supply of petrol, diesel and LPG to Meghalaya from Monday onwards.
Stating that the government is committed to neutralising all criminal organisations, Sangma said the efforts of the police have been able to displace militants from their earlier areas.
“The police have been able to completely dislocate their training camps. They have been displaced from their earlier areas, which were inaccessible and difficult for police to conduct successful operations. But today, our security forces are already placed in the most difficult terrain in the Garo hills, including the Durama region,” he added.
The chief minister said police actions have made the militants resort to different tactics like abduction and murder. Through these tactics, Sangma said, the militants were trying to force the government to withdraw the security forces from the most difficult areas, and which are tasked with the job of displacing the outfits from their camps, and not allowing them to reassemble and restart their camps.
While informing that the Union finance ministry has given clearance to the state’s proposal to upgrade police stations and police outposts, Sangma said the state government would bear nearly Rs 59 crore of the cost for setting up two more police battalions.
Stating that Meghalaya requires more additional security forces from the Centre, he said of the 19 companies of central paramilitary forces, which were withdrawn during the Lok Sabha polls, 15 companies have been sent back to Meghalaya.
Moreover, he said the government would again look into the positioning of police personnel in the entire state, as the present system is apparently urban-centric. “We have to relook and adopt corrective measures. Of the total police presence in the state, 80 per cent are in the urban areas, and only 20 per cent are spread across the rural areas. That is why the state government has embarked on initiatives to address this gap,” he said.