We've burnt our fingers in past with peace talks: Meghalaya CM

Shillong, June 7: Citing past experience, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma today said that signing peace agreements with armed militant groups has done more harm than good in the state.

"The earlier approach of signing peace agreement has harmed the state more. We have burnt our fingers in the past by engaging talks with the so-called militant outfits," Sangma said during a press briefing.

Mukul Sangma

"The GNLA (a militant outfit operating in western Garo Hills region) is an offshoot of that peace deal," he said while referring to the tri-partite ceasefire agreement signed with the Achik National Volunteer Council (now disbanded) which has given rise to mushrooming of militant outfits including the GNLA.

The peace pact was signed in 2004 and it took a decade to finally disarm the ANVC and its break-away faction – the ANVC-B. The Chief Minister's statement comes in the wake of criticism of the government's official disarmament of a relatively small armed militant group – the United Achik Liberation Army (UALA) at Tura. Sangma said, "there is no mandate for political dialogue with UALA, it is just a platform to come overground through this channel created by the government."

While raising the issue of availability of arms and explosives from across the international border from Myanmar and Bangladesh, Mukul said, "It calls for the government of India action to put pressure on Bangladesh so that their soil is not used by insurgent outfits including the HNLC. It is a matter of time that the Centre gets the support of its counterparts."

According to him, armed groups like the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) are operating from across the international border.

Expressing optimism that the exercise will soon witness positive outcome, the Chief Minister asserted, "We will ensure that Bangladesh will no longer be a safe haven for the HNLC. This is my commitment to the people."


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