SHILLONG, Dec 18: “We cannot keep giving this opportunity forever, we have to keep the timelines,” said Chief Minister Mukul Sangma as he welcomed the members of United A’chik Liberation Army (UALA) to mainstream agyer signing peace accord with the State government on Friday. He said that the government would continue to keep its offer open for militant groups to come forward for peace talks for another six months from January 1.
Home Minister Roshan Warjri, Chief Secretary P.B.O Warjri and senior officials of the government and police department at a function organized by the District Administration at Tura Circuit House, here on Friday.
The sigtories of the agreement, from the UALA side were its Chairman, Novembirth Marak alias Chi’indik and General Secretary gra D. Shira, and Principal Secretary & Commissioner of Divisions for Garo Hills, Peter Ingty and Commissioner and Secretary, Political Department Jopthiaw Lyngdoh.
The Chief Minister said, “This historic pact would pave the way for other militant outfits to stop all crimil and illegal activities and join the peace process initiated by the Government. “
He stressed the need to speed up the verification process, structure an appropriate framework and prepare a calendar of action plan in earnest to complete the process till the disbanding of the outfit, so that it would send out positive message to the other groups to come for dialogue.
He also appealed to other outfits including GNLA and HNLC to stop all crimil activities and take the opportunity for peace settlement being offered to them.
The signing of peace is a long drawn effort of all concerned, he said and thanked the interlocutors for taking up the task despite many challenges and appealed to them to continue as interlocutors to bring other militant groups for peace talks.
He also thanked the UALA for showing maturity and serious intention to partner with the government for overall peace and development in the region.
The Chief Minister also stressed the need to address the issue of backwardness and poverty, which has always been a challenge and urged upon all government departments to work towards poverty alleviation and growth in the State to generated hope among the people.
“We can insulate our people from negative forces only when we generate hope, when people lose hope they become vulnerable,” he said.
In her brief address, Home Minister Roshan Warjri said with the signing of the peace agreement the Government has achieved yet another milestone in its commitment to maintain peace in Garo Hills and the State as a whole and thanked the UALA for coming over ground with courage and determition for the cause of peace in the region.
Chief Secretary PBO Warjri, who chaired the meeting, said that the Government would facilitate all necessary procedures to rehabilitate the cadres of UALA, adding that Rs. 2.5 lakh each would be released to the cadres, which he said is a reasoble amount for rehabilitation and starting their lives afresh.
UALA Chairman Novembirth Marak said, “We responded to the Chief Minister’s appeal and decided to come forward for peace” and vowed that he and his cadres would abide by the agreed text.
It may be noted that UALA was formed in 2012 and has strength of over 70 cadres. It began its dialogue with the Government in February last year. In last one and a half year, at least four round table discussions were held.