Ready for dialogue with outlawed group: Sangma

August 16th, 2010 - 6:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, Aug 16 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Monday welcomed the offer of political dialogue by the outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and said his government was ready for talks to ensure lasting peace.
“We welcome the gesture from the HNLC for a dialogue and my government will take keen interest to facilitate the dialogue to ensure lasting peace in the state,” Sangma told IANS over telephone from New Delhi.

HNLC General Secretary Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew Sunday offered to hold political dialogue with the government.

“HNLC believes in political dialogue, not in violence to solve all problems of the tribal Hynniewtrep community,” Thangkhiew said.

He, however, criticised the government for offering the olive branch only in the fourth estate without taking any initiative to invite the militant outfit for a dialogue.

The HNLC, which stages hit-and-run operations from its hideouts in Bangladesh for over two decades, has been demanding a sovereign Hynniewtrep homeland in eastern Meghalaya.

“It is a positive sign from the HNLC expressing their willingness to sit across the table. We will be pleased to have their modalities for dialogue, but any decision on it will be within the framework of the Indian constitution,” Sangma said.

Said Julius K. Dorphang, founder and chairman of the HNLC, who surrendered before the Meghalaya government due to an internal feud within the outfit in 2007: “It is a good sign and if they (HNLC leaders) require my help to facilitate the peaceful dialogue, I will surely extend my support.”

The HNLC is closely linked to the NDFB as well as to the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland and the National Liberation Front of Tripura.

HNLC leaders Thangkhiew and Bobby Marwein, the operational head of the armed wing of the outfit, have been hiding in Bangladesh for over two decades.

Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced, and prone to frequent infiltration.

Another outlawed outfit, the A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC), fighting for creation of Garoland Autonomous Council in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region, entered into a tripartite ceasefire with the central and the state government July 23, 2004.

Chief Minister Sangma said the peace process has been taken forward and fast-tracked for arriving at a durable settlement. “The talks will further the process of political participation and also contribute to development and progress,” he said.

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