HNLC withdraws from tripartite peace talks with Centre, Meghalaya government
SHILLONG — The outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), a militant outfit in Meghalaya, on Wednesday withdrew from the tripartite peace talks with the Centre and the state government stating that their demand for general amnesty to their cadres was not met, a statement by the outfit said.
In a letter to Centre’s interlocutor AK Mishra, outfit’s self-styled chairman and commander-in-chief Boby 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.”
Marwein added, “It is with a heavy heart that we witness the peace process reaching such a critical point.”
A copy of the letter was also sent to Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.
Contrary to the state government’s condition of no armed violence or threats, the outfit recently issued a death threat to Gavin Mylliemngap, an MLA of the ruling National People’s Party in Meghalaya.
This threat came after the government decided to shut down a state-run cement company at Sohra in East Khasi Hills district.
In a statement, outfit general secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said, “If the government proceeds with the shutdown of MCCL, it would be appropriate for MLA Sohra Gavin 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 tripartite peace talks, which began last year, came to a standstill after the state government asked the top leaders of the outfit to participate in the deliberations.
During their first meeting in June last year, the outfit demanded the withdrawal of all cases against its cadres before talks could proceed further.
The meeting held at Umiam, 17km from Shillong, was attended by Mishra, interlocutors of the state government Peter Dkhar and Ronnie Wahlang, and Sadon Blah as the HNLC’s representative.
In 2021, the HNLC leadership authorised its vice-chairman and foreign secretary to also participate in the ongoing talks.
In the same month, the NIA had filed a chargesheet against four members of the outlawed organisation for allegedly triggering a bomb on the premises of Star Cement Factory in East Jaintia Hills district in December 2020 for their failure to pay ransom, an official said.
Investigation revealed that the explosion was carried out by outfit after the company’s owner failed to pay the ‘illegal tax’ demanded by Marius Rynjah alias Hep Koit, the ‘finance secretary’ of the outfit, the official added.
The four persons named in the chargesheet are Emmanuel Suchen of Lumshnong in Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district and three others who are residents of Moulvibazar district in Bangladesh including outfit chairman Bobby Marwein, general secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw and Rynjah.
Talking to PTI, Blah had said the general amnesty would involve the withdrawal of all cases against the outfit’s cadres, including the NIA case against four of the top leaders.
Since its formation almost three decades ago, the outfit has carried out armed attacks, IED blasts, and other unlawful activities, resulting in the injury and death of hundreds of civilians and armed personnel in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region.