For the first time, the people of Garo Hills, who have been tolerating militancy, have come out in the open with strongest resolve ever. It looks like they are resolved to see the end to the menace that blocked development in every sphere of life. Ultimately, it’s the people’s wish that is reflected on the state of affairs. This wave, if sustained, is slowly going to cripple into the ‘human’ members of militant groups. All along, they have been thriving on either people’s support or fear. They had lost the former (support) long ago, and the latter (fear) appears to have dwindled too. Once they lose the shield of ‘people’, the main hindrance for security forces in taking action, there will be only two options left for them – face the handcuff/bullet or give up. This is what already happening in Garo Hills. The rate of surrender has already increased since the protests started against militancy, following a Meghalaya High Court order asking the Centre to consider deploying army in the region.
The support or neutral stand of the ‘locals’ and fear of the ‘outsiders’ are the key factors in existence of militant groups. In Garo Hills, the ‘outsiders’ – unfortunately any non-indigenous person irrespective of his living span is called an outsider – are the primary victims of militancy. The ‘locals’ had been silent all along since they were not targeted directly. They failed to understand the indirect impact which was more devastating. The whole region went backward compared to their peers in other parts of the state. Young generations, who will be running the affairs in the future, have been deprived of education and misguided. What they had been doing so far is to try to relocate to the state capital Shillong or at least send the children there. They did not want their children to kidnap and kill ‘outsiders’. Like everybody else, they want their wards to get a blue-collared job, preferably outside North-east or even abroad. But not everyone can escape the ills of militancy (or growing criminal mindset) by sending their wards outside. A large number of ‘locals’ have now understood the huge indirect impact of militancy on them. The fire was brewing within and the high court directive worked as the ignition.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on December 11, 2015)