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'Determined to end Garo terror outfit'



Shillong, February 19 (IANS): The government is determined to counter Meghalaya's Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militant group, union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Sunday.
 
"The numbers are small but we are determined to put an end to the scourge of militancy by the GNLA. The Police will make every attempt to control their attacks and apprehend their leaders or cadres," he told journalists after reviewing the security situation in Meghalaya.
Ruling out the possibility of army deployment in the insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills districts of west Meghalaya, Chidambaram exuded confidence that police and the central forces were capable of handling the situation.
 
The home minister, who reviewed the security situation in Meghalaya with Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, said: "The GNLA is declared a terrorist organisation. There won't be any talks with them but they have to abjure violence and give up arms".
 
On Jan 12, the central government declared the GNLA, a rebel group operating in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills in west Meghalaya, a terrorist outfit under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
 
Over 30 people were been killed and more than 10 people abducted for ransom by GNLA rebels in the last one year.
The outfit, which is headed by police officer-turned-outlaw Champion R. Sangma, has forged an operational alliance with the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) besides a Bangladesh-based rebel group, A'chik Special Dragon Party.
Indian intelligence officials believe Champion was "arrested" by Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) commandos Nov 23, 2011 from Haluaghat in Mymensingh district of the neighbouring country.
 
However, the Indian government does not have any official confirmation on Champion's "arrest".
 
Cautioning the people from supporting the GNLA, Chidambaram said the law will take its own course against those who are extending any help to the Garo outfit, which is fighting for a separate Garoland to be carved out of Meghalaya.
 
On the ongoing peace talks with the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC), another rebel outfit operating in Garo Hills, the home mnister said: "As long as they are in talks mode we are happy and would continue to engage them in talks and whatever is possible will be done (to fulfil ANVC demands)."
The ANVC is fighting to create a Garoland Autonomous Council in Meghalaya's Garo Hills region. It entered into a tripartite ceasefire with the central and the state governments July 23, 2004.
 
However, when asked about the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), a secessionist group operating in east Meghalaya, Chidambaram was all at sea. He didn't seem to be familiar with the HNLC and turned to Meghalaya chief minister to give a clarification on this.
Sangma said: "As you are aware, we have been able to containe them (HNLC) and would try to continue to do so." The HNLC, which conducts hit-and-run operations from its hideout in
 
Bangladesh, has been demanding a sovereign Khasi homeland in east Meghalaya.
On the fencing of India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya, the home minister said that the progress of work was satisfactory.
 
"There is considerable progress in the border fencing work. Phase one of the fencing work is completed and phase two is underway and we are hopeful that we will accelerate the work on the border before the monsoon sets in," he said.
 
Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of it porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.
 
PC reviews progress of work on int'l border

Shillong, February 19 (PTI):
With the Centre setting timelines for securing the country's borders in the North East, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today reviewed the progress of work at the international boundary in Meghalaya.
 
"We have taken a decision today to accelerate the process and we want to complete it as much as possible before monsoon sets in," he told reporters after the review meeting. He said phase-2 of construction of roads and floodlighting will begin. The Home Minister also met members of the Coordination Committee on Border Fencing (CCIB), a conglomeration of influential NGOs in the state opposing border fencing, for a discussion on how to end the stalemate. While the Centre wants to construct the fence 150 yards inside and away from the zero-line, CCIB has been pressing for fencing at the actual line to prevent loss of agricultural land.
 
The CCIB is also against the Indo-Bangladesh land pact signed by both countries in September last year. They said, the border survey conducted by the Joint Boundary Working Group was done without consultation with land owners, the traditional bodies and the CCIB. On December 9, the Centre had agreed to a suggestion made by the Meghalaya government to undertake a single row fencing along the zero line in those areas on the Indo-Bangla border where people are objecting to the 150 yard buffer.
 
According to the home ministry, the Indian side of the India-Bangladesh border passes through West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The ministry, on its website, said the total length on the India-Bangladesh border sanctioned to be fenced was 3,436.56 km, of which about 2,735 km of fencing has been done so far.  The remaining work is to be completed by March, it added. Meghalaya shares a 443 kilometre border with Bangladesh, parts of which are still unfenced and plagued with bad terrain and infiltration.

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