Shillong, Oct. 6: With the credibility of no less than 24 legislators from the Garo Hills of Meghalaya at stake, pressure is mounting on chief minister F.A. Khonglam to reveal the names of the three leaders he claims are in league with the outlawed A’chik National Volunteers’ Council.
Khonglam had announced an inquiry into the politician-militant nexus on September 16, saying there was “substantial evidence” against a legislator from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). On October 4, he said three MLAs — one of them from the Congress — had been “found guilty” of collaborating with the ANVC.
The chief minister’s statement sparked frenzied speculation about the identities of the errant leaders. A legislator from the Garo Hills said Khonglam had complicated the issue by withholding the names of the three politicians.
“If he has the names, why doesn’t he say who they are' Till the suspense remains, all 24 of us will be looked at with suspicion. That is unfair.”
Garo National Council (GNC) legislator Clifford R. Marak, who represents Chokpot in the Assembly, claimed that the problem of politicians helping militants was not limited to the Garo Hills.
He said the government should reveal the names of the leaders against whom the CID had gathered evidence and begin a similar probe into the dealings of legislators from the Khasi Hills.
“It is not secret that MLAs from the Khasi Hills have links with militant outfits. Therefore, the investigation needs to be extended to all legislators,” he added.
Clifford Marak, who has been demanding that a new state be carved out of the Garo Hills, said he would be the happiest man if the government initiated steps against politicians found hobnobbing with militants. Last evening, the BJP had made a similar statement.
Former chief minister and state Congress chief Salseng C. Marak, too, said Khonglam should end the suspense.
“I will take up the matter with the chief minister. Being the president of one of the parties he has named, I surely have the right to know who among my colleagues is in league with militants.”
The Congress leader, however, said he was not convinced that any legislator had direct links with the ANVC.
“We should differentiate between a real nexus and other forms of association. Militants might knock on any politician’s door for money. That cannot be regarded as proof of a politician-militant nexus.”
In spite of protests by legislators from the Garo Hills, the chief minister refuses to name the accused till such time the CID submits its report to the government.
While announcing an inquiry into the militant-politician nexus, the chief minister had said that the culprits would be booked under the Meghalaya Preventive Detention Act. Khonglam said an interim report on the issue had been submitted to the Union home ministry.
On whether the constituents of the ruling People’s Forum of Meghalaya had been taken into confidence, the chief minster pointed out that he did not consider it necessary to consult everybody after a decision had been taken at the “highest level”.