Shillong, Aug. 20: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today declared that it was “ready for peace talks” and asked the Meghalaya government to appoint an “interlocutor” if it was committed to peace.
“The HNLC is ready for peace talks within the ambit of the Constitution of India or outside the Constitution as per requirements. As the Indian constitution was not drafted by God,” HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said in a statement.
Stating that the outfit was “more or less ready” for “unconditional peace talk”, Nongtraw said the Meghalaya government should adopt a “practical approach”.
“If chief minister Mukul Sangma is really committed to his words, then he should try to appoint an interlocutor to initiate the peace process with the HNLC,” he said.
Following the offer to rehabilitate “misguided youth” by Sangma, the outfit had indicated on Sunday that it was ready to take the offer provided a bilateral ceasefire was first put in place.
The government, in turn, had stated that it was examining the outfit’s statement. The group had wanted a bilateral ceasefire before possible peace talks could commence.
According to Nongtraw, the “interlocutor” should assist “both sides” in formulating issues in a constructive manner to facilitate reaching a final agreement. He also expressed faith in Sangma’s leadership that the peace process would pave way for a peaceful atmosphere in the region.
“The need of the hour is to aim for a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to peace-building. It should provide a platform to discuss and analyse the root causes of the problems experienced in our Hynniewtrep region and to develop mechanisms to positively transform the situations on the ground,” the HNLC leader said.
He reminded that the initiative for peace talks was taken in 2004 when D.D. Lapang was chief minister.
“But because of the inability and inefficiency of Lapang and his Congress leadership, the entire process was manipulated and derailed. It seems that Lapang had purposefully done it to satisfy his own motives. He (Lapang) is only interested to become the chief minister, thereby turning a blind eye to the overall development of the state,” Nongtraw alleged.
He further alleged that Rev. P.B.M. Basaiawmoit, who was acting as “our mediator”, was threatened by Lapang.
“What does the government expect? A mass surrender or to enable individual surrenders whereby the cadres were paid by the government as it was done during the surrender of Julius Dorphang?” he added.
Stating that the system of “surrender or mass surrender” is an “insult to our cause”, Nongtraw said peace could not be achieved by surrender.
“We can stop war once a sense of complete responsibility pervades the minds of all, including those not connected with a war but concerned with the survival of our Hynniewtrep community. Each one of us has something to contribute. We need to speak to each other, and we need to listen to each other,” he added.