‘Deploy forces to end militancy’

Newly-formed peace group appeals to MHA

This screen grab of a video released to the media by the Achik Peace Volunteers Council shows a suspected armed GNLA cadre executing an unidentified victim
in broad daylight in Garo Hills.

SHILLONG: The newly formed vigilante group, Achik Peace Volunteers Council (APVC) headquartered in Ampati, South West Garo Hills, while terming the talks with the Garo Hills based militants as unconstitutional, has asked the Centre to send additional forces to the region to tackle the militants and end the sufferings of the people.

In a letter addressed to Anil Goswami, Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, APVC convener Che Guevara Marak said that Council was formed with the mission of establishing peace in Garo Hills.

“Our modus operandi is grassroots intelligence, appeal and persuasion and our technical team analyzed the crime inflicted upon the society in Garo Hills by the so called militant groups – GNLA, ANVC (B), UALA, LAEF, ATF, ANLCA and many other splinter groups who have been committing heinous crimes,” the APVC said in the letter, a copy of which was also sent to Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (Northeast), Ministry of Home Affairs.

According to APVC, in 2013, the militants took away the lives of 38 persons which include seven security personnel.

The victims of militancy in Garo Hills region also include one Assistant Pastor, two women, two Nokma (Garo village head) and two Government officers.A total of 14 traders and coal labourers were abducted for ransom. There were attacks on petrol pumps, MPRO station, police station, forest range office, DMR gate, public transport bus, markets and private companies like BSC C&C among others.

According to APVC, the militants served demand notes to persons ranging from church missionaries to meat sellers.

The APVC said that till date in 2014, the militants have eliminated six innocent persons and kidnapped seven others and have also attacked a District Magistrate, an Additional District Magistrate, one petrol pump and targeted police teams.

“After a detailed analysis, we have concluded that the militants in the Garo Hills have been doing ‘business’. It is a business with the blood of innocents. Creating terror in the minds of people and killing people is their investment. They are criminals and should be punished according to the law of the land,” the APVC said, adding that the Centre should not invite these criminals for talks as it would appear that the Centre is surrendering to these elements.

“These criminals are not extremists. They haven’t uttered a single word about their ideology. Their acts clearly imply their business. They are interested in money and not separate state or anything. So use your might and punish them. Sovereignty is at the core of our Constitution and is it a part of the Preamble of the Constitution,” the APVC convener said.

The APVC leader also said that a sovereign government punishes the criminals and does not engage in talks.

“Talking to these criminals is unconstitutional and shameful. A post master in Songsak informed our volunteer with tears that he had to pay Rs.50,000 to the GNLA. This money was his savings from salary. When he received the extortion note, he did not even think of approaching police. He only thought of means to pay the money. This should not happen in a sovereign country,” Marak said.

He said that in a sovereign country people trust police. In East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills districts, every government officer and business man except district magistrates and police received extortion notes and the money is paid to these criminals with full loyalty.

The APVC leader said that not even a single person filed a complaint with police so far. This is not a sign of sovereign country as the sovereign country protects its officers who are delivering services in the remote corner of the country, he said.

According to APVC, in Williamnagar during last Christmas season, all wine shops, electric shops and dry fish markets remained closed for a week on the orders of Sohan D Shira, the commander-in-chief of the GNLA. He ordered them to close the shops if they cannot pay the demanded amount. And they obeyed.

“Is this a sovereign country? If you believe India is a sovereign country, you should send forces and finish the sufferings of our people,” the APVC asked the Union Home Ministry.

Meanwhile, the APVC also released a video to the media (including The Shillong Times) which shows an unidentified gunman executing an unidentified victim in broad daylight on the under-construction NH-44(E) which connects West Khasi Hills to Garo Hills.

The APVC alleged that the video was circulated recently by GNLA to terrorize the people of Garo Hills.