Shillong, Aug. 26: Opposition legislators in Meghalaya today demanded a special session of the Assembly to discuss the volatile law and order situation in the state, particularly in the militancy-hit Garo hills that witnessed a spurt of violence, including killing and abduction for ransom.
The legislators made the demand during a meeting of legislators from the Garo hills convened by the state government at the state secretariat here today.
Of the 24 MLAs from the Garo hills, 20 of them including legislators from the Opposition attended the meeting.
Chief minister Mukul Sangma, however, remained silent on the special session demand put forth by the legislators.
The meeting that lasted several hours ended without adopting any resolution.
“The strategy we adopted in the meeting was not a resolution. We are going to have another sitting in the Garo hills next month so that members of the district council can also take part in the discussion besides academicians, representatives of traditional institutions, civil society and different NGOs,” Sangma told reporters after the meeting with legislators from the Garo hills.
He said a similar meeting would be also held in Khasi Jaintia hills as there are also certain areas of concern.
Sangma also said the meeting discussed measures, how to understand challenges and then put in interventions, besides adopting a strategy to create opportunities for the misguided youths who have joined militant outfits, by providing a package for sustainable livelihood.
He, however, said more analysis is needed to be done, especially to understand the background of conflict zones and conflict that is specific to the state.
He also admitted that some legislators have floated the idea of discussing the issue in the Assembly by convening a special session.
“They have flagged their opinions. We have said that while these things (law and order) are also discussed in the Assembly, there is a need to discuss this issue at different platforms,” Sangma stated.
Asked if the government subscribes to the idea of having a special Assembly session, Sangma was tightlipped and abruptly avoided the media from further briefing.
Opposition legislators from the Garo hills, comprising the lone Garo National Council (GNC) MLA, Clifford Marak, National People’s Party (NPP) MLA James K. Sangma and two Independent MLAs — Saleng A. Sangma and John Leslee K. Sangma — suggested that the issue of law and order should be discussed in the Assembly. “We need a special session so that all the 60 MLAs from both Garo hills and Khasi Jaintia hills can discuss together the issue in the House,” Marak told reporters.
Marak’s suggestion to have a special session of the House was also backed by James, Saleng and John.
“We have given our suggestions, but we are not sure if these would be considered. During a similar meeting in the past too, we had made a number of suggestions but all in vain,” Saleng lamented.
James also said the demand for a special session was made considering the fact that the matter (law and order) needs a broader discussion and the Assembly is the right platform for adopting a resolution.
“Lots of MLAs have expressed their concern since going by past experience, the suggestions were not taken into consideration including those given in a meeting last year after the occurrence of communal tension in the Garo hills,” James said.
Marak, one of the veteran legislators in the state, said the present law and order problem in the Garo hills is also affecting the whole state. According to him, the root cause of militancy particularly in the Garo hills is related to the demand for a separate Garoland state.
“The militant outfits, be it GNLA, ANVC and others in the Garo hills, are demanding for a separate state. The demand is genuine and it will be a solution to the militancy problem,” the veteran MLA said.
He said a public rally on a “separate Garoland state” would be also organised in October by the Garo Hills State Movement Committee in the Garo hills.