There is a lot of expectation from the Special Force – 10 or SF-10, the first elite commando force of Meghalaya Police. They are out in the battleground after taking part in the recent passing out ceremony. Criminal gangs and militant groups operating in Garo Hills might be watching out for them. If the first batch of 223 commandos and 115 rangers can justify the government objective of formation of the unit, there is going to be a sea change in the crime scenario especially related to insurgency in Garo Hills. The government and peace loving people have a lot of hope on this group in bringing down the crime graph.

Even as the SF-10 has been created, there is once again a spurt in kidnapping in Garo Hills. The kidnapping of as many as nine petty traders and their subsequent release was shocking. This incident brought home the point that the numerous surrenders that the government boasted about had no impact on the criminal elements in the region. It seems the work done by church bodies and other civil society groups in bringing militants back to mainstream has gone in vain. The situation apparently remaining same in the past six months, the question that arises here is whether there was any genuine intention behind all those surrenders and ‘homecomings’?

In tackling insurgency, the government takes multiple approach including discussion and operation. There were discussions and even disbanding of some groups. But, apart from some numbers of ‘homecoming’ militants and the weapons they deposited, the ground reality has not changed much. So, with one key approach not working, is the government going to push the other option hard? Are the few hundred SF-10 commandos going to be used in full swing against criminals and militants in the region? This elite commando force has to justify its existence by making a difference in the state’s law and order. The men are there. Now they need proper guidance, facilities and equipment. Wastage of this force will be criminal.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on October 8, 2016)