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Opposition demands PR in Meghalaya

By Raju Das

SHILLONG, June 6 � With seven new militant groups emerging in Garo Hills region during Mukul Sangma�s tenure as Chief Minister, the Opposition Meghalaya People�s Front has demanded Sangma�s removal in the Assembly today and said President�s Rule (PR) must be imposed in the State.

�There is chaos, anarchy and lawlessness in Garo Hills. The Chief Minister must step down and President�s rule must be imposed,� James Sangma, a vocal opponent of the Chief Minister from the National People�s Party said, while moving the adjournment motion in the Re-assembled budget session of the Assembly today.

The Opposition�s demand received further fuel from a statement placed by the Government on militant groups that pointed out that seven new groups were formed during the Chief Minister�s tenure from 2010.

These include the A�chik National Volunteer�s Council (breakaway faction), United A'chik Liberation Army, A�chik Songna An�pachakgipa Kotok, A�chik National Liberation Army, A�chik Tiger Force (ATF), A�chik National Liberation Central Army and A�chik National United Front. Of the militant and terrorists groups, the GNLA is the largest with over 300 cadres that includes 110 new recruit as per Government data.

James said all these �extra-judicial killings, custodial deaths� and failed magisterial probes pointed to a paralysed administration with a strong militant-politician-police nexus having the upper hand.

Leader of the Opposition, Donkupar Roy of the United Democratic Party (UDP) joined James and said that the Chief Minister must give more emphasis on peace rather than clinging to his chair. �The greatest achievement of the Government under Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is the growth of militants,� he said while also demanding PR in Meghalaya.

Paul Lyngdoh (UDP) referring to the Government statement said that just over 500 �terrorists, militants, thugs and criminals� were holding a population of over 30 lakh people in Meghalaya under ransom, negating the presence of 12,000 police personnel.

MLA from Garo National Council, Clifford R Marak said that in the battle between the police and the militant, civilians are dying in the cross-fire.

The Chief Minister, acknowledging that the Garo Hills situation is a matter of grave concern said that low police manpower is a problem. Sangma said that before the Lok Sabha elections, 19 companies of paramilitary forces � BSF and CoBRA � pressed into counter-insurgency operations in Garo Hills were withdrawn for election duty. The Centre has now sent 10 companies of paramilitary forces after the killing at Chokpot, South Garo Hills and five more were on their way.

The adjournment motion wasn�t withdrawn by the mover and was defeated by a voice vote.

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