Govt will invite talks only if militant groups give up arms: Conrad

Saleng asks govt to follow up on surrendered militants

SHILLONG, Mar 20: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator from Gambegre, Saleng A Sangma on Tuesday told the Meghalaya Assembly that certain surrendered cadres of militant organisations went back to their old lives because there were no follow up action on the part of the previous governments.

Sangma said that the earlier governments should have taken initiatives to see that militants who have given up arms are properly rehabilitated.

Sangma pointed out to the fact that slain Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) chief, Sohan D Shira surrendered before the then Chief Minister DD Lapang in the presence of then Deputy Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and senior government officials at the official residence of Lapang on August 25, 2007.

In 2009 he again took up arms and formed the GNLA along with cop-turn-militant Champion Sangma. Champion was arrested in 2012.

Taking part during the Question Hour, during the Budget Session, Sangma said that the government should appoint psychologists to help rehabilitate the militants back into the mainstream.

“Many went back after returning to the mainstream. The government should study why they did so,” the NCP legislator from Gambegre urged the government.

Earlier in his reply, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma made it clear that the government will talk only with those militant groups who give up arms.

Conrad said that his government is not saying no to peace talks but certain procedures need to be followed.

“The government’s stand is clear we are not going to negotiate with militants who come with arms,” the Chief Minister said.

He however said that there should be a give and take policy. “Shun violence, we will give you rehabilitation package,” Conrad said.

The Chief Minister also said that militancy was not the problem but the outcome of socio-economic issues.

Conrad also informed the House that the state government has formed a screening committee which includes, the State Director General of Police, the Additional Chief Secretary and the Inspector General of Police.

The Chief Minister stated that this committee looks into which cadres are eligible for the rehabilitation package.

He also informed that the three basic criteria for availing the rehabilitation package are – those who surrendered with arms, those cadres who went for training outside the country and cadres felt by the Special Branch of the state police that they should be rehabilitated.

Conrad also said that at present the rehabilitation package for surrendered militant is being given a lump sum of Rs 1.5 lakh and a monthly stipend of Rs 3000 even as he added that there is a proposal to amend the package.

Earlier initiating the issue during the Question Hour, Congress legislator from Mawlai, Process T Sawkmie said that the government was negative in its approach by not proposing to invite all militants groups for talks.

“We have to be flexible. It seems the government has closed all doors (for negotiation),” Sawkmie said.