Release chairman before peace talks, says Sohan

GNLA throws ‘Champion’ gauntlet on State Govt

TURA: The banned GNLA has welcomed Meghalaya Governor Dr. KK Paul’s offer of peace talks but maintained that it can happen only if their chairman Champion R Sangma is released from prison and leads the group in the deliberations.

“GNLA highly appreciates the offer of peace talk by the constitutional figure like Governor – your highness Dr. Paul. If the Governor is committed let our Chairman break the ice. Release him immediately and translate your highness’ offer into reality,” stated GNLA commander-in-chief Sohan D Shira.

Sohan’s statement comes in the backdrop of this year’s Republic Day speech by the Governor, wherein he had appealed to militant groups particularly the GNLA to come forward for talks and shun the path of violence.

The dramatic statement of the GNLA military chief seeking the active participation of his arrested chairman for any peace talks to move forward has now put the ball in the Meghalaya Government’s court.

GNLA chairman Champion R Sangma is currently lodged in Shillong jail for subversive activities. He has obtained bail in several cases but needs to secure bail in two more cases to walk out free.

Sohan’s statement lending support to his jailed colleague has also thrown cold water on previous police claims that the two do not see eye to eye. After Champion’s alleged arrest in Bangladesh and subsequent deportation to India via the Khasi Hills border where he was arrested on July 30, 2012, reports had emerged that the two leaders were no longer close allies.

Sohan’s statement has clearly dismissed any speculation that may have arisen in the past.

“Under the GNLA constitution, our chairman Champion R Sangma is responsible for any talks,” Sohan added.