Meghalaya rebel leaders send feelers for talks

Friday, February 18, 2011

SHILLONG - Two top leaders of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) rebel group have sent feelers for talks with the Meghalaya government, an official said Friday.

“The outfit’s general secretary Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew and publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw have sent feelers to the government for negotiations,” a top official of the union home ministry told IANS here on condition of anonymity.

State Home Minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh Thursday also met Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi and discussed the internal security situation in Meghalaya.

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

“They wanted to hold talks with the government in the wake of the intensified operations launched by the Bangladeshi forces against the Indian insurgents,” the MHA official said.

Earlier, the elusive HNLC general secretary had 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 had said.

He, however, criticised the government for not taking any initiative to invite the militant outfit for a dialogue.

In fact, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had said his government is open for a meaningful dialogue with the secessionist Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) and other rebel groups.

“The state government is always open to meaningful dialogue with any such outfit, including the HNLC, provided that the outfit indicates its keenness to do so, and it is within the framework of the constitution of India,” Sangma said.

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

Thangkhiew, Nongtraw 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 on July 23, 2004.

Filed under: Terrorism

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