Meghalaya’s Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) on May 23 emphasised the significance of amnesty in order to forward negotiations with the government for peace.
"It would be difficult to take the peace talks forward if the government does not agree to provide amnesty", said Manbhalang Jyrwa the HNLC vice chairman.
Jyrwa also said that the issue of amnesty and summon notices issued by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were also raised during a meeting held with the Dy CM in-charge Home (Police) Prestone Tynsong recently.
After the meeting with the Dy CM, Jyrwa informed that the government has assured no arrest and harassment to the HNLC members while peace talks are in progress.
"He (Dy CM) and the Government has assured us that as long as the peace process is going forward, there will be no arrest, no harassment on the HNLC leaders and cadres", said Jyrwa.
The vice chairman added that, "Both the Centre and the State government have clarified that there will be no problems but we as leaders still have our apprehensions that when we all come to the state, arrest will be made since NIA is a quasi-judicial body. There is a slight confusion. Had there been no confusion, our leaders would have already come here".
Stating that the HNLC is very much positive to take forward the cause, the vice chairman of the outfit said, "The status (of the peace process) right now is we will be having a formal talk very soon in the first week of June. After the formal talks take place, then only we will be able to deliberate (on the issues)".
He informed that more leaders of the outfit will be coming to the state for the peace talks even as he indicated that the Chairman of the HNLC, Bobby Marwein, will be joining the talks at a later stage.
Jyrwa also maintained that the question of HNLC surrendering will not arise.
HNLC representative and president of the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) Sadon K Blah said since the beginning of the peace process, the outfit had held three discussions with the central government interlocutor and officials of the home ministry.
The latest meeting was held with the deputy chief minister of the state Prestone Tynsong in the presence of the chief secretary Donald P Wahlang.
"It is kind of breaking the ice so that the peace process can move forward…(as) we cannot straight away go to the political demands of the organization. What we have done in these four-five days, we talk about the safe passage for the leaders of the HNLC to be able to come to India and have a face to face discussion", he disclosed.
Asserting the importance of amnesty, Blah said, "And secondly, the discussion was on amnesty because the peace process cannot move forward until and unless both the Centre and State governments consider amnesty for the organization as a whole and all its individual members".
"About the safe passage, it has been agreed about a year ago that all the participating leaders of the organization can move freely to proceed with the peace process and as far as amnesty is concerned, that is a subject matter which we will be placing in the first formal meeting that will be held soon. So far, that is the status and that was the discussion we had", he added.
When asked, Blah said, "Until and unless this waving of legal action is in place, waving of legal action means like it may be through amnesty or whatever procedure the government knows better so the peace process can be signed only after the organization feels it is okay to go ahead with it".
According to him, the subject matter will be placed in the first tripartite meeting between the Centre, State and the HNLC. "Technicalities will be discussed with the Centre and State government. If it is okay, it is okay and if not then it might be delayed that’s all", he stated.
Reiterating the stand of the outfit, Blah said that peace talk is a 'ceasefire arrangement' not a 'surrender arrangement'.
Referring to the statement made by the outfit’s general secretary cum publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw, he said, "The wordings that he (Nongtraw) used was we cannot guarantee the success of the peace talks since this is a peace process in progress. We cannot guarantee whether it will be hundred per cent successful or there will be speed breakers".
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