In service, especially private sector, they give credit points to employees on the basis of performance. Employees love these credit points. A salesman ties to sell more goods, a policeman catches more thieves, a bureaucrat clears more files, a politician brings road, school projects to his constituency etc. In the North-east, containing insurgency is a big task for the security forces. A security official is credited for elimination of rebels and their surrender. For surrender, the police or army shares the credit with the government. However, the evaluation of the effort of the people at the helm ends with the surrender and not its impact, if any, on the common man.

The Meghalaya government must be commended for persuading a Garo rebel group to disband the outfit and join ‘mainstream’. But it’s not happening. Dates after dates gone, the outfit is ‘not ready’ to surrender yet. In the last meeting with the administration, the United Achik National Liberation Army (UALA) sought more time for the disbanding ceremony. The government is happily granting the time. For what? To get the numbers? Adequate number of weapons? So that it becomes a grand ceremony like the ones the state had seen in the past? It is not understood what the outfit wanted to mean when it said it is ‘not ready’ to surrender. Where have its cadres gone on ‘leave’? Are they clearing the rust from their weapons? Are they trying to finish some incomplete ‘projects’ before the UALA tag gets removed and lost the arms? Is government considering these possibilities, which, if true, would render the outfit unfit for any honour ‘homecoming’?

In December 2014, over 500 cadres of Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and its faction ANVC-B were at a similar extravaganza. The Mukul Sangma-led Congress government has to be credited for all these ‘homecomings’. Some of these militants are already in business, some are in politics etc. There is no report, barring a few exceptions, of these cadres taking up arms again. Fine, great job (by the government)! But are these exercises serving any purpose? Is the rehabilitation package offered to these past ‘criminals’ (their crimes are never proved) worth it? The surrenders look futile if incidents of violence in Garo Hills every other day are taken into account. The crime rate, if not increased, has not come down over the years in the region. It’s time for the government to review its strategy to contain insurgency. It can no more be content with the surrender ceremonies, which often follow series of crimes that attract public criticism. There is no offence in top police officials and politicians clicking smiling photographs while taking ‘surrendered’ arms from militants. But, the public should be able to smile as well!

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 2, 2016)

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