Biplab Kr Dey
TURA, Jan 4 – Militancy in Garo Hills has always been a very complex thought, one that has kept the region stuck in a quagmire of developmental problems. Militancy has been the underlying factor in all spheres of life in Garo Hills and the year gone by was no different. At last count there were close to 10 outfits in the region, though some were floated in name only. The Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), ASAK and AMEF remained the only big groups of note in the region and posed the biggest threat to peace in the region. While the GNLA has shown its willingness to come forward to the talks table, the other two still have not indicated what their intentions are.
The peace talks offer of the GNLA led by Sohan D Shira, came after the Republic Day address by the Governor asking for all groups to come to the talks table. However, after the initial optimism, the group was involved in two incidents which changed the attitude of the State and Central Governments and asked for an all out operation against the group.
The first was the killing of a woman in Chokpot in South Garo Hills and the second was the now infamous mass beating in Pakregre village in East Garo Hills. The GNLA owned up for both cases though they said the killing in Chokpot was due to the victim being a police informer and the beatings due to the victims carrying on extortion in the name of the outfit and a few being informers.
This led to wide spread condemnation for the incidents while the Central Government immediately put a stop to the talks with the outfit.
The refusal of talks led to a frustrated GNLA becoming active once again due the increase in operations against the outfit. The outfit was allegedly involved in planting multiple bombs leading to the killing of policemen.
The Reding Sangma-led ASAK, which is a breakaway faction of the GNLA, began to actively seek cadres for the outfit and were allegedly involved in a spree of kidnappings, the most infamous of which was the kidnap of a SBI official, leading to closure of banks which refused to open demanding the release of the employee.
The protests and condemnation led to the ASAK breaking up after the cadres involved in the kidnapping broke away to form the AMEF led by Jack Marak. The AMEF has been active in kidnapping, extortion and demand note circulation.
The surrender of hardcore cadres of the above three outfits, has led to the hope that things can get better. More than 50 cadres of various outfits surrendered to the police after Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma encouraged surrenders through a surrender package.