Shillong, Jan 04, 2024, IANS
Shillong, Jan 3 (IANS) In a setback, outlawed militant outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) in Meghalaya after a few rounds of negotiations withdrew from the tripartite peace talks with the Centre and the state government.
With camps in Bangladesh, the Meghalaya based extremist outfit HNLC in a statement on Wednesday claimed that their core demands for general amnesty to their cadres and lifting of ban were not accepted.
In a letter to Centre’s interlocutor A.K. Mishra, outfit’s chairman and commander-in-chief Bobby Marwein said: “We deeply regret to inform you that we are reluctantly withdrawing ourselves from the peace talks with your government. This decision has been made due to the unfortunate circumstance that our general demands have not been met.”
Mishra, who is also looking after various tribal related issues of Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura, is the advisor to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“It is with a heavy heart that we witness the peace process reaching such a critical point,” Marwein stated.
The outfit recently issued a death warning to Gavin Mylliemngap, an MLA of Sohra assembly constituency in East Khasi Hills district, belonging to the ruling National People’s Party.
The outfit's general secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw had said: “If the government proceeds with the shutdown of Mawmluh Cherra Cements Limited (MCCL), it would be appropriate for Mylliemngap to assume responsibility. Just as you and your government dare to bury MCCL alive, we will hold you accountable by our own actions. Traitors of the people should be punished with death.”
The MCCL is a state-operated cement company in the East Khasi Hills district’s Sohra area.
The tripartite peace talks between the Center, state government and the HNLC began last year.
The outfit demanded the withdrawal of all cases against its cadres before talks could proceed further.
Earlier NIA in August 2022 had filed a chargesheet against four members of the outlawed organisation including its Chairman-cum-Commander-in-Chief Bobby Marwein for allegedly triggering a bomb blast on the premises of Star Cement Factory in East Jaintia Hills district in December 12, 2020 for their failure to pay ransom.
In August 2021 violent protests broke out in different places in Meghalaya after General Secretary Chesterfield Thangkhiew of HNLC was killed in a police operation.
Chesterfield was a former militant and police have alleged that he was involved in the IED explosion in Shillong.
Two people were injured in that explosion.
The latest development has taken place after the government had in July last year allowed "safe passage" facilitating the leaders of the Khasi insurgent outfit to come to the negotiating process.
While militancy is on the decline in Meghalaya over the last several years, since 2020, the HNLC has been behind a few low-intensity IED blasts in the state.
The HNLC, which has been demanding a sovereign Khasi tribal homeland in Meghalaya, is a breakaway faction of the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council, the first tribal militant outfit of the mountainous state, formed in the mid-1980s.
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