Alliance matters everywhere. What’s true for Indian political parties appears to work even for militant outfits. As the BJP hankers after parties in the South to bring them under the NDA banner, militant outfits are looking for new alliance in Garo Hills region of Meghalaya. Of late, the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) has been on a peace overdrive. GNLA urged militant outfits of the region to come under its banner, only to be turned down by many of them recently. For the government, it’s meaningless to hold talks with one outfit and face the music of another the next day. Knowing this, the GNLA is making offers to mend fences, especially keeping in view the upcoming district council elections.
The government’s acceptance of some names as mediators to broker peace with GNLA has already angered the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC). The ANVC is currently leading the peace talks with the government, and possibly eyeing the major share of the “benefits”. The GNLA has already made it clear that it would not join any dialogue under ANVC. But, the GNLA even failed to woo other outfits to come under its banner, making the situation more complex. Three clear divisions are already visible among the outfits even before any concrete progress of the dialogue process. It is highly doubtful whether the GHADC election set to be held in a couple of months will bring any permanent solution to the perennial problem of militancy in Garo Hills. What the government needs to focus is to make education more accessible and affordable as a long-term solution. To discourage more youth turning militants, creation of jobs is a viable option. The money to be spent on doling out so-called peace incentives to militants, many of who are seen as no holier than mere criminals, should be used in establishing small-scale industries and other employment opportunities.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 2, 2014)