Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council granted safe passage for talks

Shillong: The central government and the Meghalaya government have granted a ‘safe passage’ to allow leaders of the banned Khasi rebel outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) to come to the negotiating table for speeding up the peace process.

Informing this at a news conference today, Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) president and representative of the HNLC, Sadon K Blah said at least three rounds of meetings have been held with the executive members of the HNLC at the level of the foreign secretary and political secretary in the presence of the state government appointed interlocutor Peter S Dkhar, who is a retired IAS officer.

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“Subsequent to this, the central and state governments have agreed to grant a safe passage to the leaders of the HNLC, who are to be engaged in the talks for the peace process, where they can come and go and maybe stationed themselves within the territory of India,” he said.

He added, “The safe passage will enable the HNLC leaders to come and have a direct discussion with the authorities, be it of the state or central government. This will speed up the peace process if the leaders of the HNLC are able to join the discussion and negotiate across the table,” he added.

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He said that the discussion across the table between the centre and state governments and HNLC is likely to take place in the next few days or weeks.

On signing of the ceasefire with HNLC, Blah however said the “question of a ceasefire may not be the appropriate topic to discuss now as we are still in the first chapter where we have to talk about the legality of allowing the HNLC to come to the negotiating table”.

“If the ceasefire has to happen, it will happen only after the HNLC has put forward their point of view in front of the central and state governments,” he said.

The HNLC representative said that the political issues or the agendas of the outfit are yet to be discussed and put in the public domain.

“It is only after the safe passage having been agreed then only things will move forward and the public will be in the know what is the second chapter or political agendas or issues that the HNLC would like to put forward to the state and central governments,” he said.

If the government has identified a designated camp for the outfit, Blah said as per protocol the government in the coming days has to take appropriate decisions regarding this.

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He informed that the HNLC is serious about the peace process and hence they have refrained from any “aggressive activities”.

Blah however denied having any information about the present strength of the banned organization and said, “Let the leaders of the HNLC come and have a discussion with the authorities concerned all those things will be known (in the process).”

The HNYF president however said nothing has been discussed with regard to the security of the HNLC leaders and its cadres during the peace process.

“I think it depends on the wisdom of the state and central governments how to provide security to them – that part has not been discussed but I think it is part of the protocol as it happened in other parts of North East India that the authorities concerned will have to take appropriate steps regarding the security aspect of things,” he also said.

Whether the HNLC’s decision to join the mainstream will mark the end of militancy in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region of the state, Blah however said there is no guarantee to that because one will not know if the present generation is happy or not happy with the system.

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