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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

HNLC seeks amnesty for cadres in criminal cases

First rounds of peace talks with Meghalaya banned outfit begins

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HT Bureau

SHILLONG, June 24: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) on Saturday sought dropping of all criminal cases registered against its leaders and cadres while asserting that amnesty is needed to take the peace process forward.

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The outfit conveyed its demand during the first round of peace talks held with the Centre and state government here.

The meeting was attended by government appointed interlocutors Peter S Dkhar(Retd IAS) and AK Mishra, advisor MHA Northeast (Retd IPS) and seven-member delegation of the HNLC which comprises of its vice chairman Manbhalang Jyrwa, political secretary Aristerwell Thongni, foreign secretary Phrangkupar Diengdoh and PSOs – Rymphang Marwein, Storgy Lyngdoh, Aiborlem Marbangiang and Raymond Lapang.

Addressing the media, the outfit’s representative and HNYF president Sadon K Blah said, “We have discussed today on the need to open the door for the peace process to move forward and (to do this) the government should consider granting amnesty by waving all criminal charges against the HNLC leaders and cadres.”

He said the outfit is seeking amnesty on cases registered against its leaders and cadres by both Centre and state government.

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There is only one case registered and chargesheeted by the Centre’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) against top leaders of the HNLC which include its chairman Bobby Marwein and general secretary-cum-publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw.

Blah informed that the representatives of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the State had stated that it will be a matter of weeks for the government to consider the representation of the outfit particularly on the issue of amnesty.

“They have assured us that the matter will be considered in a matter of weeks and it will be communicated to us so that we can pursue the issues concerned. The response was positive and encouraging. They assured that the government will try to solve this matter as soon as possible,” he said.

He also informed that during the tripartite meeting, the government had also put forth some suggestions and proposals and said, “Today itself, we will be having a meeting to discuss on the proposals we got from the government authorities and we will decide how soon the meeting will be held and we will communicate to them and they will also communicate to us.”

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Stating that the outfit is yet to place its political agenda across the table, Blah said, “This is because we are waiting for the door to open first before we proceed with the political agenda as the political agenda is not a matter to be solved in a day or two. When I say the door to have further communication on the political agenda is that both the government must consider waiving of these criminal charges and dropping of cases in whatever manner they can manage to do it so that we can proceed forward.”

When asked, the HNLC representative said, “Without considering amnesty and considering the cases which might be pending against the leaders and cadres of the HNLC, we feel that (it may not be wise for them) if they cross over the border and come to India to carry forward the peace process…you know a kind of trust must be built because they might come for peace process but what if the government authority do otherwise so that is why we need to get clarity on this subject matter of amnesty.”

Adding to this, HNLC vice chairman Manbhalang Jyrwa cited the case of the NDFB chief Ranjan Daimari and said, “Like the case of NIA because as far as we are all concerned Ranjan Daimary was also convicted by the NIA. So leaders, they are having apprehensions that that same thing might also happen this side. So in order to avoid those kinds of scenarios we are trying to create and build a mutual trust with the state and MHA.”

“Therefore, it is only after receiving in writing from the government, we will then have a meeting and then we shall decide the future course of action in terms of the peace process,” he added.

Jyrwa has at least 3 cases pending against him since 2012 and all are related to waging war against the government.

On the other hand, Blah said that an unofficial suspension of operation has already existed since the inception of the ongoing peace process during the last one year.

“Neither from the government or police side have there been any kinds of irritants created nor from the HNLC side any kinds of irritants created. It is a kind of a mutual understanding on the suspension of operation but since the talks are in progress, if the situation demands that we sign an official suspension of operation that also we can look into and certainly we can look into,” he asserted.

Further, the HNYF chief said that the ceasefire is already there as per the last letter sent by the outfit to the government in October, 2022. “However, for the interest of the peace process, we have intentionally not made it public but the ceasefire is already there,” he added.

Blah informed that likely some more top leaders of the HNLC will be participating in the second round of peace talks that will be taking place in the days to come.

Meanwhile, the HNLC is yet to submit the list of its cadres and weapon strength to the government. This is because till date neither the Centre nor the State had asked about the details. “However, if they ask then the HNLC will decide on the matter,” Blah stated.

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