SHILLONG, July 10 � The Meghalaya Government has literally slammed the door shut for talks with the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), but left a window of opportunity by offering a surrender package if they gave up armed struggle.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the GNLA has lost its opportunity for talks by continuing with its senseless violence and now the only option left before the group is to surrender or face the wrath of security forces continuing with its counter-insurgency operations.
�The Central Government formally indicated to the State Government that there can be no talks with the GNLA,� Sangma said in a news briefing here today. The Chief Minister recalled that the State Government has repeatedly asked the GNLA to give up violence so that peace talks could be initiated.
Despite the frequent appeals, the GNLA has continued with its criminal activities and thus lost the opportunity for talks. Nonetheless, he added, the State Government would work out a suitable surrender package for the GNLA if they are willing to come overground.
�They can surrender and come overground if they are really concerned about the people and then work for the well-being of the public,� he added.
The State Government is negotiating with another militant group operating in the Garo Hills region � Achik National Volunteers� Council and its breakaway faction. The peace talks have been stalled due to the change of government at the Centre. The State Government has indicated to the Central Government that the GNLA should also be brought to the negotiating table, but now the Central Government is thinking otherwise.
The new thinking is due to the fact that once a peace process is initiated with one group, another mushrooms, either splitting from the existing group or forming an entirely new group. In fact, in the last count, there were 10 militant groups, which are operating in the State and many of these have surfaced in the past three-four years.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has again pitched for strengthening of the international border and said that till the these borders are sealed, arms and ammunition vital for the militant groups would keep coming and destabilise the country.
He said that he would again talk with the Central Government on the urgent need to seal the border; however, in several stretches of the 443-km long international border Meghalaya shares with Bangladesh, there is opposition from NGOs.