Meghalaya, apart from being used as a corridor by rebels to and from their hideouts in Bangladesh, was virtually untouched by militancy. The creation of Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) in 1992 did little to change the state’s status as an ‘island of peace’. However, it is now arguably the most disturbed state in the North-East.
Militancy in western Meghalaya’s Garo Hills, dominated by the Garo tribe, arrived in 1996 with the birth of Achik National Volunteer’s Council (ANVC) riding a sporadic movement for the creation of a separate Garoland. Anarchy came with the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) formed in 2010.
Many blame the deterioration of law and order across Garo Hills – covered by Tura Lok Sabha constituency comprising 24 assembly seats – to a turf war between Meghalaya chief minister Mukul M Sangma and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma.
Mukul Sangma admitted that the situation in the Garo Hills has gone out of hand. “There are 10 active militant groups in Meghalaya, and they are thriving because their firepower is superior to that of the police,” he said a few days ago.
Besides the 10 active outfits on which the government tabled a dossier in the state assembly, Meghalaya has three dormant militant groups.
These are Liberation of Achik Elite Force (2005), People’s Liberation Front of Meghalaya (2001) and Hajong United Liberation Army (2006).