Garo gameplan, Manipur-Myanmar bonhomie & Delhi&’s apathy

THE Meghalaya government’s silence is telling. The Garo National Liberation Army — whose objective is the achievement of greater Garoland — is running wild, killing both civilians and police personnel, apart from cases of abduction, rampant extortion and intimidation. Its leader, Sohan D Shira, recently sent a notice to a doctor demanding Rs 30 lakh. A similar note was issued to a Hyderabad-based company engaged in the construction of the vital road linking the west Khasi Hills with the Garo Hills, asking it to pay Rs 20 crore. Block development officers, teachers, businessmen, coal traders and transport operators are the targets.
In fact, no one has been spared. On 5 June, GNLA cadres torched a Shillong-bound bus after ordering its passengers, mostly students, to get out. And the terror tactics have been going on for more than three years now. The outfit is not the only player in the field. There are several others and many more could sprout, depending on how green the pasture is.
Last year, GNLA chief Champion Sangma, a former superintendent of police, was apprehended from the Indo-Bangladeshi border. In custody now, he expressed a desire to contest the 2013 assembly elections on a Congress ticket and assured the ruling party that, if allowed, his outfit would return to mainstream politics. Surprisingly, even while Sangma was in service he had been clandestinely running the militant outfit for a year without the government having the least inkling!
Militant outfits are unlikely to mend their ways easily, but there is an urgent need to provide security to the general public. Some say the GNLA&’s assertiveness is deliberate, the intent being to amass as much wealth as possible through extortion before finally surrendering to the authorities so as to enjoy the benefits that come with rehabilitation. It is difficult to understand how the Meghalaya government — it has never sought the Army&’s help to tackle militancy — will handle the situation, but procrastination cannot be part of the strategy.
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A WIND of goodwill has started blowing across Manipur and Myanmar and both are laying out welcome mats, thanks to chief minister Ibobi Singh and his 45-member team’s successful visit to Monywa (140 km from Manipur’s border town of  Moreh) in Sagaing district early this month. They attended the North-East India-Myanmar Business Conclave where, apart from discussing trade aspects between the two countries under the Smile Train Cleft Project, doctors from Manipur conducted 87 surgeries on patients.
According to reports in the Imphal-based Sangai Express, the chief minister offered to set up a 100-bed hospital at Monywa and has sought 500 acres for the purpose. He invited Myanmarese patients to come and get themselves treated in Imphal hospitals, assuring them of security and even subsidised accommodation. Ibobi is determined to start regular flights from Imphal to Mandalay from next month to put Tulihal airport on the international map. Very soon, Manipuris will be shuttling by bus between Imphal and Mandalay.
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THE death, under mysterious circumstances, of 21-year-old Reingamphi Awungshi from Manipur&’s Ukhrul district once again brings to the fore how insecure North-east boys and girls are in metropolitan cities. She was found dead on 29 May at her rented room in Chirag, Delhi. Read the story alongside by Delhi-based freelance contributor Ninglun Hanghal, who highlights the Delhi police&’s apathy in dealing with the problems aired by people from the North-east. A report says they even passed some unpleasant remarks against girls from the North-east.
Last year, the body of a 19-year-old Manipuri, Loitam  Richard — a student of the Bangalore College of Architecture — was found in his hostel room after he had been allegedly assaulted by friends the previous night while watching a cricket match on TV. Okram Laaba, also of Manipur and a student of the Hindusthan College of Arts and Science in Chennai, was found dead in his hostel room last year. Whether or not the culprits in these cases have been punished is not known.