Saturday, May 18, 2024

Tripartite peace talks begins with Meghalaya militant outfit HNLC

Another round of tripartite talks between the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), and the Meghalaya and Central governments began on Saturday to take forward the dialogue with the outlawed militant outfit, peace process interlocutor Sadon K. Blah said.

Blah, terming the first day’s talks as “positive”, said that the HNLC has demanded the withdrawal of all charges against the cadres of the outfit to pave the way for successful talks.

HNLC Vice Chairman Manbha Rynjah said that the general amnesty, if granted, would build a trust between its cadres and the governments.

“We want peace. Government would come forward with an open mind to achieve the desired goal of peace,” the HNLC leader said after Saturday’s meeting, which was held at the guest house of the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd at Umiam here.

Centre’s interlocutor A.K. Mishra, state government’s representatives Ronnie Wahlang and Peter Dkhar attended the meeting, where seven HNLC leaders took part headed by their interlocutor Blah.

Saturday’s meeting was a follow-up to the last discussion held last month. Both the state government and the HNLC observed that the charge sheet filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against four HNLC cadres would not disturb the ongoing peace talks.

The NIA in August 2022 filed a charge sheet against four, including its Chairman-cum-Commander-in-Chief Bobby Marwein in connection with the bomb blast at the staff quarters of Star Cement Factory Colony Lane in East Jaintia Hills on December 12, 2020.

The latest development has taken place after the government had in July last year allowed “safe passage”, facilitating the leaders of the Khasi insurgent outfit to come to the negotiating process.

Following the HNLC’s offer to hold peace talks without any preconditions, the Centre had given its nod to the peace process leading to the Meghalaya government initiating formal talks with the outfit earlier last year.

The state government also appointed Dkhar, who has vast knowledge of ethnic issues of Meghalaya, and is a former Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills and West Jaintia Hills districts, as interlocutor.

Retired IPS officer Mishra, who is the advisor of the Union Home Ministry, will coordinate between the Centre and the state government on the talks with the HNLC.

While militancy is on the decline in Meghalaya over the last several years, since 2020, the HNLC has been behind a few low-intensity IED blasts in the state.

The HNLC, which has been demanding a sovereign Khasi tribal homeland in Meghalaya, is a breakaway faction of the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council, the first tribal militant outfit of the mountainous state, formed in the mid-1980s.

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