Peace process cannot move forward without amnesty: HNLC

Peace process cannot move forward without amnesty: HNLC

SHILLONG, MAY 23: Vice Chairman of the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) Manbhalang Jyrwa on Tuesday said it would be difficult to take the peace talks forward, if the government does not agree to provide amnesty.

“Without amnesty how will we take the peace talks forward?” Jyrwa told reporters.

Jyrwa was accompanied by the HNLC political secretary Aristerwell Thongni and two PSOs – Storgy Lyngdoh and Raymond Lapang.

He also informed that the issue of amnesty and summon notices issued by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were also raised during a meeting held with State’s deputy chief minister in-charge Home (Police) Prestone Tynsong recently.

“The home minister and the government have given us the assurance that as long as the peace process is going forward, there will be no arrest, no harassment (against the HNLC leaders and cadres),” he said.

“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,” Jyrwa added.

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 discussion with the central government interlocutor and officials of the home ministry for three times.

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’.

“If we go by the context of the ceasefire arrangement with other groups in North East India you will understand that ceasefire is different from surrendering of arms and ammunition,” he added.

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HYC slams Govt for spending over Rs 4 crore on non-performing bodies

Meghalaya Govt to set up a separate Directorate of Forensic Sciences

SHILLONG, MAY 23: The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) on Tuesday demanded the state government to take corrective actions against wasteful expenditure on non-performing bodies..

Addressing media persons, HYC general secretary Roykupar Synrem said an RTI filed by the HYC revealed that the government had spent over Rs 4.42 crore on the Meghalaya Economic Development Council (MEDC) and Meghalaya Resource and Employment Generation Council (MREGC) without making any contribution towards the state during the last five years.

He said, “We demand the Chief Minister of the State to take corrective actions to minimize the unnecessary expenses on these types of Committees, Commissions, Councils etc which does not provide any productive contributions to the Government or the state as a whole.”

He said payment of any types of remuneration should be given only after taking into consideration of the contribution made by these bodies and the practice of providing facilities like house rent, electricity bills, conveyance, furnishing of house etc should be stopped forthwith as these bodies are not permanent and does not even have their permanent offices.

Engagement of staff to various appointees should also be kept in abeyance till such time the Government comes up with a concrete policy on the working of these bodies.

“The organization will write to the Chief Minister in the coming days with demands and suggestions and if the Chief Minister or the Government does not take necessary steps, then we will be forced to take recourse to legal remedies to take actions against the Government for wastage of public money,” Synrem said

Synrem said the NPP led Government of Meghalaya during 2018 to 2023 has constituted the Meghalaya Economic Development Council (MEDC) with a Chairman along with Co-Chairmen and Vice –Chairmen, who are affiliated or office bearers of the political parties in power.

Some of the important functions of MEDC are to advise the State Government on issues relating to or touching upon the industrial and economic policies; identify sectors where overall economic and industrial growth can be created and accelerated; suggest ways for attracting investments, local and foreign, in the State.

However, as per RTI replies received from the Planning Department it is shocking to learn that the expenses towards the staffs and other perks and facilities provided to 4 appointees (who had made claims till date) under the Council is Rs 1,55,02,266 but the Council did not sit even for a single Meeting or provided any advice, suggestions or carry out any of its functions as mandated upon it during this period of Five Years.

“The Chairman, Co-chairman and Vice-Chairman have only drawn the funds from the State’s coffers without any productive contribution towards the State and the people in general,” Synrem said.

Another body constituted by the Government during 2018 till 2023 is known as Meghalaya Resource and Employment Generation Council (MREGC) with the objectives to identify skills in demand from Growth of Economic activities in the State both in technical and non-technical spheres and to assess investments/requirements for developing such skills among the people; to assess prospects for generation of employment in the State in the relevant sectors and identify activities which may have high employment potential besides others functions.

“However, inspite of spending Rs 2,87,18,941 during the period, the Council did not sit for any meetings or provided any advice, suggestions or carried out any of the functions as mandated upon it but the Chairman, Co-Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and other non-official political appointee members have only unashamedly fleeced the State’s funds,” the HYC leader stated.

“An amount of Rs 4,42,21,207 is being spent on these two Councils constituted by the Government without any contribution or positive results but has only made us poorer as the State,” he said.

He added, “These two Councils are only under the Planning Department, Government of Meghalaya which we have information for now but there are some more under the different Departments which are yet to get specific information but we are sure they are also unproductive and have only fleeced us the people in the last five years.”

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Ardent stages indefinite hunger protest for review of JRP

Ardent stages indefinite hunger protest for review of JRP

SHILLONG, MAY 23: Opposition Voice of the People’s Party chief Ardent Basaiawmoit on Monday started an indefinite hunger strike demanding the state government to review the Job Reservation Policy.

Speaking to reporters, Basaiawmoit said, “Our objective of staging the indefinite hunger strike today is to put pressure on the government to review the job reservation policy.”

Stating that they are not expecting the government to call them for talks, the VPP chief said, “What we want is for the state government to straight away inform us that the job reservation policy will be reviewed.”

He said that job reservation policy is the root cause of the problem being faced by the unemployed youth and it is not the roster system.

“Roster is an effect and reservation as a whole is the root cause of the problem,” he said.

He said the 1972 policy is “unfair and outdated” adding there is a need to review the policy considering the current population differences.

According to the 2011 census, over 14.1 lakh are Khasis while the Garos are a little over 8.21 lakh.

The VPP president however maintained that he is not against the rights of the Garos to jobs but that he is merely demanding an impartial job reservation policy that would be fair.

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FKJGP asks CM to intervene into recruitment of Gramin Dak Sevaks in Meghalaya

FKJGP asks CM to intervene into recruitment of Gramin Dak Sevaks in Meghalaya

SHILLONG, MAY 23: The Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) on Tuesday sought the intervention of the chief minister Conrad K Sangma to urge the Centre to amend the draft model notification of the Department of Post by prescribing knowledge of local language in addition to Hindi and English for engagement as Gramin Dak Sevaks in the state.

In a letter to Sangma, FKJGP president Dundee C Khongsit said, “Therefore, in the best interest of our local educated unemployed youth, I would earnestly seek your kind intervention to urge the Ministry of Communication, Government of India to amend the draft model notification of the Department of Posts by prescribing knowledge of one of the languages of any of the three major tribes of Meghalaya as local language in addition to Hindi and English for engagement as Gramin Dak Sevaks in our State as is done in other North East states of Assam, Manipur and Mizoram.”

“Since the recruitment process for the above mentioned posts is likely to commence immediately, we would request for your kind and timely intervention on the matter so that our local youth are not deprived of employment opportunities in the Department of Posts as has happened in the past,” he added.

This came after the Ministry of Communication, Department of Posts, Government of India has decided to recruit 445 Gramin Dak Sevaks, Branch Post Masters and Assistant Branch Post Masters for posting in post offices across Meghalaya for which the recruitment process is likely to take place very soon.

“Since, the draft model notification of Department of Posts has prescribed Hindi or English as the local language for engagement of Gramin Dak Sevaks, we feel that this criteria will deprive the chances of local youth to avail this employment opportunity as· they have to compete with candidates from outside the State who normally score better in these languages, especially Hindi,” Khongsit said.

“What needs mention here is that in the past, out of several candidates for Gramin Dak Sevaks who are selected from outside the State, only few chose to join their postings in Meghalaya and later opted for transfer to their respective home states owing to remoteness, tough geographical terrain and language problem in Meghalaya particularly in remote Villages,” he said while adding that as such, the very purpose of opening Branch Post Offices in the remote villages in Meghalaya gets defeated and the employment opportunity for local youth gets closed.

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