Centre to decide on AFSPA in Garo Hills: Meghalaya Police

Shillong, Nov 3 (IANS) Meghalaya Police on Tuesday admitted that the law and order situation in the insurgency-hit districts of the Garo Hills was “worrisome”, but said it was up to the centre to take a decision on the Meghalaya High Court order to enforce the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

“The central government can consider and examine it (court order). They can judge what it is happening and take a decision,” Meghalaya Police chief Rajiv Mehta told journalists after attending a high-level security meeting chaired by Chief Secretary P.B.O. Warjri.

“There is no denying of the problem (militancy problem in Garo Hills). We think that over a period of time, we can overcome the problem and sort it out. And if the situation warrants for army operations, the state and central government will interact on it,” he added.

The Meghalaya High Court asked the union home secretary and defence secretary to consider the use of AFSPA and deployment of armed and paramilitary forces to control the deteriorating law and order situation in the Garo Hills.

It also directed the principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office to place the order before Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his perusal and consideration.

The high court order came following the recent kidnapping and killing of Intelligence Bureau officer Bikash Kumar Singh and businessman Kamal Saha by militants of the A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok and abduction of government official Jude Rangku T. Sangma by the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants. Sangma was released on Tuesday.

“We have no option but to direct the central government to consider the use of AFSPA in the Garo Hills and deployment of armed and paramilitary forces to control the situation in the aid of but certainly not under the command of civil and police authorities till life becomes normal and the incidents of rampant kidnapping and killing are totally stopped,” the court noted.

However, police chief Mehta said police have conducted successful operations against militant groups operating in the Garo Hills and the West Khasi Hills.

“It is not that police have not yielded successful counter-insurgency operations in the past,” he said, adding that there were many successful results which are not revealed to the public.

The court also quoted data supplied by police on the abduction of 87 people — 25 civilians, 27 businessmen, 25 private sector employees, five government employees and five teachers — in the Garo Hills from January till October 31 by Garo militants.

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