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The Garo Hills region of Meghalaya has plunged into utter lawlessness. Militant groups, who hold sway in several pockets of the region, even do not have control over their cadres. The recent brutal murder of a woman at Chokpot is a case to the point. GNLA commander-in-chief must not have told his cadres to try to rape the woman and then pump six bullets from point blank range, tearing her head apart. He may not have asked them to carry out the execution before her children and husband, as they did. The ‘instruction’ might have been to just kill the woman, whom the GNLA branded as a police informer and held her responsible for the killing of a ‘training instructor’. A few days ago, another former rebel of the outfit was also killed for the same reason, in front of his children. His alleged ‘help’ to police in hunting down the ‘training instructor’ also shows how disintegrated the rebels groups have become in the region.

On the other hand, the spurt in killings and abductions has its genesis in the mushrooming of rebel groups fighting for space in the small region of five districts having the population of less than 10 lakh. The militant elements have already entered the political circles, as alleged by none other than political parties. The so-called civil society groups are under scanner too. Chief minister Mukul Sangma came on record saying that there are elements of militant groups in the various NGOs. Obviously, such an epidemic is bound to touch opportunists present in any group especially when militancy has become a lucrative business in Garo Hills. Police are also plagued by moles within and the militants’ proximity to villagers in remote regions where communication means are still a far cry. In the woman’s case, the police got information about some killing in Chokpot the previous evening, but they did not take the risk of venturing out in the night. The caution was justified in view of a recent incident of holding an entire police station hostage for four long hours by an angry mob. Police claim the mob was influenced by Garo rebel group GNLA, one of whose over ground workers died in police custody recently.

The brutal murder of the woman by the GNLA will now give security forces more reasons to launch all out operations against the most influential militant group, which is otherwise supported or feared by a section in Garo Hills. But, the presence of numerous outfits and increased targeting of police informers by them will pose a challenge as well. Peaceful solution to the insurgency situation Garo Hills will remain impossible till people of the region continue being exploited by ulterior motives of the vested interests including militants, politicians or anyone else.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on June 6)