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Upheaval In Meghalaya

  • 18 Aug 2021
  • 8 min read

Why in News

Recently, a former militant of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), was killed in a police encounter that has led to a crisis in Meghalaya.

  • The encounter was reportedly carried out by the police team of East Khasi Hills and East Jaintia Hills.

Key Points

  • Background:
    • Meghalaya shares a border with Bangladesh and has seen decades of migration from the neighbouring country as well as from other parts of India - Bengal, Punjab and Bihar.
    • This has sparked anxieties of indigenous communities who feared becoming a "minority in their own homeland" because of the influx of "outsiders".
    • It was a culmination of these "anti-outsider sentiments" that led to the formation of Meghalaya's first militant group, the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALP), in 1992.
      • Hynniewtrep represented the Khasi and Jaintia communities and Achik represented the Garo community.
    • HALC was later divided and HNLC came into being that represented the Khasi and Jaintia communities and the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army that represented the Garo community.
      • The Achik Matgrik Liberation Army was later replaced by the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC).
    • HNLC claimed to represent only the interest of Khasi Communities, whereas, the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army demanded a separate state for the Garo community.
  • Present Status of militancy in Meghalaya:
    • The ANVC since 2004 has been under an extended ceasefire agreement with the government while the HNLC has been trying to talk peace with the government but on a conditional basis.
    • Over the last several years, militancy in Meghalaya was seen as declining.
  • Insurgencies in other North East states:
    • Nagaland: Naga Insurgency
    • Mizoram: Mizo Movement.
    • Assam Insurgency: United Liberation Front of Assam (U.L.F.A.) was formed in 1979 for the deportation of illegal migrants.
    • Manipur: United National Liberation Front formed in 1964, with an objective of ending the discrimination against Manipur.
    • Arunachal Pradesh: The only case of indigenous insurgency movement in Arunachal Pradesh was the rise of the Arunachal Dragon Force (ADF), which was rechristened as East India Liberation Front (EALF) in 2001.
  • Implications:
    • Fatalities:
      • Severe fatalities have been reported from the northeast including both civilians and security forces.
    • Hindrance in India’s NE Economic Policies:
      • In the oil-rich Assam, militants have periodically targeted oil and gas pipelines for sabotage, alleging that India is exploiting the natural resources of the state.
      • National projects have either been stalled or have moved with a tardy pace after militants attacks. Tourism, which could have flourished in the scenic northeast, has suffered a lot due to instability in the region.
    • Hampers India’s Act East policy.
      • Militancy has also stalled the prospect of linking the economy of the northeast with the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries
    • Resistance in Education:
      • The education sector too has been affected by militancy. A number of schools in states like Tripura’s interior areas have been shut as teachers avoid the areas due to fear of militant strikes.
  • Measures to Counter Insurgency:
    • Operations and special acts:
      • In the Assam 1990s, two military operations, Operation Rhino and Bajrang, were launched against U.L.F.A. militants.
      • Special powers under AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) were bestowed on armed forces to deal with emergency conditions. It is there in the whole of Assam, Nagaland, most of Manipur, and some areas of Arunachal Pradesh.
    • Peace Talks:
      • Today, almost all the major insurgent groups in the region, except the Meitei insurgents, have entered into a ceasefire or Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreements with the Union and/or state governments.
      • They are engaged in peace talks with some even disbanding their armed cadres.
    • Inner Line Permit (ILP):
      • Restrictions are imposed on the entry of outsiders to maintain the original identity of indigenous people of Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh entry of outsiders are not allowed without ILP.
    • Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER):
      • It is responsible for the matters relating to the planning, execution and monitoring of development schemes and projects in the North Eastern Region, to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the region.

Khasi Community

  • Khasi people are an indigenous ethnic group of Meghalaya in north-eastern India. They have a distinctive culture and are the largest tribe of Meghalaya.
    • Both inheritance of property and succession to tribal office run through the female line, passing from the mother to the youngest daughter.
  • The Khāsi speak a Mon-Khmer language of the Austroasiatic stock.
  • They are divided into several clans. Wet rice (paddy) provides the main subsistence; it is cultivated in the valley bottoms and in terrace gardens built on the hillsides.

Garo Community

  • The Garos, who call themselves A'chiks, are the second largest tribe in Meghalaya.
  • The Garos have a strong tradition that they have come from Tibet. They have a number of dialects and cultural groups. Each of them originally settled at a particular area of the Garo Hills and outlying plain lands.
  • However, the culture of the modern Garo community has been greatly influenced by Christianity. Nokpantes are the glory of the past and all children are given equal care, rights and importance by the modern parents.
  • The Garo marriage is regulated by two important laws, viz., Exogamy and A'Kim belongs to the same clan. Marriages are not allowed within the same clan.

Way Forward

  • Government should enhance communication and connectivity, infrastructure improvement for better integration of the region with the mainland.
  • Stringent law and fast criminal justice system for quick disposal of insurgents attack cases should be imposed.
  • Government should promote greater coordination between central forces and state forces for better tactical response and greater cultural interaction with the rest of the country and socio-economic development that includes a holistic inclusive development.

Source: IE

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