Garo Hills clamours for peace

Govt, militants given six months’ time  to end unrest ‘Dialogue and education need of the hour’

Thousands of people take part in the rally organised by church leaders and Garo pressure groups on Tuesday. (ST)

TURA: With the church and its faithful leading the way, Garo Hills on Tuesday gave a clarion call for peace underlying the need for dialogue and education at the core of peace initiatives to end militancy which has ravaged this once peaceful region.
An appeal was made to both the government and the armed rebel outfits to sit across the negotiation table and sort out their differences within a timeframe of six months.
Thousands of citizens, many having travelled from remote villages of Garo Hills came to attend a peace rally jointly called by church leaders and Garo pressure groups to appeal to the militants to shun the path of violence and urge upon the government to open the doors of dialogue for a lasting solution to the insurgency problem which has lingered on for so long.
Although the festive season of Christmas is round the corner and many are engaged with the wedding season and winter shopping, the peace rally at Chandmari playground witnessed one of the biggest gatherings of people in recent times with some pegging the turnout at over ten thousand people.
Speaker after speaker, right from Don Bosco College director Rev. Fr. Januarius S Sangma and Hawakhana Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Friting D Sangma tosenior citizens Dr. Milton S Sangma and Mrs. Charlotte W Momin stressed on the need for dialogue to bring back the misguided youth and highlighted the importance of education both at school and home to ensure children are not misguided.
Leaders from the non-tribal community led by former GHADC secretary C B Chetry also took part in the rally.
The church leaders and NGOs gave a fervent appeal to the Meghalaya government and the rebel organizations to settle their differences across the negotiation table within a time frame of six months from Tuesday.
“The peace rally will review the progress and take further necessary course of action,” stated the organizers in their resolution which was passed unanimously.
“The Meghalaya government must make earnest effort to put an end to all forms of insurgency and illegal acts like kidnappings, extortion and the militant groups and armed gangs must also come over ground to lead a normal life,” appealed the church leaders and NGOs.
Gratitude was also expressed to the Central government and the Meghalaya government for their assurance to the people of Garo Hills not to enforce the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Highlighting the importance of education and family life, speakers at the rally appealed to the government to create adequate infrastructure for education, games and sports to keep the youth engaged.
There was concern over the plight of education and health care in the rural areas and an appeal was made to the people to take the cause of education seriously.
“Education is the strongest weapon that can transform society” stated the church elders and NGO leaders.