TURA, March 9 � The clarion call for peace in the Garo Hills made by the Unified Peace Movement (UPM) today received a huge response from the citizens of the region. The call for peace made simultaneously throughout the region, with prayers and rallies, brought the whole region to a standstill. The slogans of peace echoed across all sections of the society with all religions coming together for the cause of peace.
The meeting in Tura started with a prayer by Church elders who said that the people had suffered for long years due to militancy. �We have lost a lot of lives to the violence. It is now time to repair the damage so that we can move on. Our hope now lies with God and hopefully they will hear the voice of God and the emotions of our cries for peace�.
The GNLA, the biggest outfit of the region, has already shown its keenness to join talks after a call for peace was made more than a month ago by the UPM. A few more outfits have also expressed their interest to come forward. However, they now have adopted a wait and watch policy as the Meghalaya Government is yet to outline its thoughts on how it wants to include them into the peace settlement.
The meeting turned emotional when a mass prayer called by a Church elder brought tears to the eyes of many who gathered. Roger Benny A Sangma explained the phenomenon, �Our region has seen bloodshed for the last few decades and the remembrance of these days is what has brought out these tears. Many who have come have also lost their loved ones to the violence. The prayers are now to see the end of militancy and hope things get better for the development of the region�.
A huge crowd of more than 3,000 took part in the rally at Tura and the numbers coming forward in other places were also impressive. The Congress candidate for the Tura Lok Sabha seat also joined the gathering to show his solidarity with the people.
Rev Januarius S Sangma exhorted the all people of Garo Hills to shun violence and come forward to the mainstream. �We want our love to be echoed by all those who are in the jungles and have gone astray. Our cry for peace is an echo of our hearts and we hope their hearts too will echo with the love we are giving them�, he said.
MD Shira, a former MLA and Chairperson of the UPM said, �We appeal to all those who have taken the path of violence and come forward. We also appeal to the Government to take the peace process seriously to include everyone so that we can have lasting peace.�
Adinson Ch Momin, of an NGO behind the rally, said, �This is the first time we have come out in such huge numbers to cry out for peace in our lands. We need peace and want all our brothers in the jungles to come and join us in the mainstream�.
�We cannot live without peace any longer. We have had enough of violence and the time has come for all to come forward in peace. We appeal to all militant organisations in the Garo Hills region to come forward and join the peace settlement�, said a resident of Tura who had come for the rally.
Similar rallies and prayers were organised in the towns of Williamnagar, Ampati, Chokpot and Baghmara also.