No need of AFSPA in Garo Hills: Meghalaya CM

Shillong, Nov 17 (IANS) There was no need for imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in the insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya as the state government was capable of dealing with the militants, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said on Tuesday.

“We are capable of dealing with the insurgency problem in the state. Unlike in the past, we have busted and dislocated joint training camps of the United Liberation Front of Asom, Garo National Liberation Army and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland in the thick jungles of Garo Hills,” Sangma told journalists here.

He said the government has also been able to prevent many youth from the Garo Hills from joining the militant outfits after initiating sustainable livelihood programmes.

“We have shared our data with the central government on the number of militants who have surrendered, arrested and were killed in gunfights. Therefore, the government’s stand is abundantly clear that we are capable in dealing with the situation,” he said.

Moreover, the people’s opposition to AFSPA reflected that they have faith in the state government.

“The government is already dealing with insurgency at the root cause. We have launched a number of sustainable and livelihood programmes besides setting up residential schools to thwart the school dropout problem,” he said.

Indicating that a number of militant outfits have responded to the government offer for peace talks, Sangma said the government was aggressively working to find out interlocutors to facilitate the peace talks with the government.

However, he made it clear that the state government cannot initiate a peace process with the banned outfits as it requires the approval of the central government.

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