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Most people in northeast yearn for peace: Mooshahary

By The Assam Tribune

SHILLONG, May 2 (IANS): Meghalaya Governor RS Mooshahary has admitted that some people in the Northeastern States still support insurgent groups but said the majority of the inhabitants yearn to live in peace and harmony.

Mooshahary, a former head of the elite National Security Guard (NSG), termed Meghalaya a "peaceful" State and said the police have cracked down on the insurgents. "Meghalaya cannot be termed as a disturbed place. By and large it's peaceful and police have been able to take prompt action against the spillover activities by ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) and NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland). There has been no major incident in the State for so many months," Mooshahary told IANS.

Meghalaya, especially the Garo Hill region, is being used as a safe haven for various Northeast-based militants groups including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-IM), the ULFA and the NDFB, whose chief, Ranjan Daimary, was arrested in Bangladesh and handed over to India on Saturday.

With the outlawed A'chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) on a ceasefire agreement with the Central government, the NSCN (IM) and the ULFA spawned several militant groups with the main intention of exploiting the lucrative extortion in the coal-rich areas of the Garo Hills region. The Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), which is one among the smaller militant outfits, is believed to have been formed with the help of the NSCN (IM) to extort money.

Champion R Sangma, a Deputy Superintendent of Police turned rogue, is believed to be heading GNLA, whose cadres are deserters, mostly from the ANVC and the Liberation of Achik Elite Force (LAEF).

Another outlawed outfit, the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), has been demanding a sovereign Khasi homeland in Meghalaya is currently on the backfoot with most of its cadres, including its chairman Julius K Dorphang surrendering to the government.

According to the Meghalaya Police officials, the HNLC is closely linked to the NSCN-IM and the National Liberation Front of Tripura.

On the birth of a new militant outfit GNLA in the Garo Hills headed by a former police officer, the Governor said, "I don't think he (GNLA chief Sangma) has been able to make much headway. If he had any grievances, he should have aired the same to the concerned authority. It's a clear case of frustration and he is creating bigger problems for himself."

He said Sangma will not be able to "create any large-scale movement" and will not have much following either. "One day he will have to come out in the open. It is difficult to survive as people do not want violence; they want to live in peace," Mooshahary said.

Downplaying the emergence of splinter insurgent groups, Mooshahary said: "The small groups that come up cannot be called as insurgent groups. They are merely a band of extortionists who are out to loot and plunder from others."

He said that except for Manipur, the situation in the Northeast has largely improved. "Nagaland and Assam have improved a lot in the law and order front, and the current trend in the region is towards peace," Mooshahary added. However, sounding a word of caution to the law and order authorities, Mooshahary said: "We should make sure that Meghalaya does not become a transit point for arms smuggling, but we have seen a lot of untoward events that have been prevented in the past."

He also stressed on the need to bring stringent electoral reforms to debar people with criminal antecedents from contesting the polls. "We need better electoral reforms and debar those (politicians) with criminal antecedents or having nexus with criminals from contesting elections," Mooshahary contended.

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