SHILLONG: The banned militant group, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), has signaled its willingness to engage in a meeting with Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong, albeit under its own terms and conditions. The HNLC, which withdrew from the tripartite peace talks on December 20, 2023, expressed its readiness to meet, but with a significant caveat – the venue must be determined by the Council.
The General Secretary and publicity secretary of HNLC, Saiñkupar Nongtraw, took to Facebook to convey the group's acceptance of Deputy CM Prestone's proposal. In the post, Nongtraw emphasized that the meeting place would be decided by the HNLC, even if it meant convening in another country. He assured the Deputy CM of a safe passage, good food, and proper lodging, encouraging him not to harbor any fears or reservations.
The HNLC's decision to withdraw from peace talks was communicated to the Ministry of Home Affairs through a letter signed by Chairman-Cum C-in-C, Bobby Marweiñ, and General Secretary, Saiñkupar Nongtraw. The letter cited the failure to address the organization's fundamental demands as the primary reason for pulling out. The HNLC expressed concerns that without addressing these critical issues, their political demands might also be overlooked.
In response to the HNLC's withdrawal, Deputy CM Prestone Tynsong appealed to the organization to reconsider its decision. In a statement released on January 20, 2024, he urged HNLC leaders to rethink and revisit their stance. Tynsong emphasized the rarity of golden opportunities for successful peace talks and encouraged the HNLC to choose a location for the meeting. He assured the group that the government is prepared to meet them there and engage in discussions to ensure a positive conclusion to the peace talks.
The Deputy CM's plea comes amid efforts to conduct the peace talks involving the Centre, State governments, and the HNLC. The unfolding events reflect the delicate nature of negotiations and the complexities involved in addressing the concerns of a banned militant outfit seeking redressal of its grievances. As stakeholders await further developments, the onus remains on finding common ground to resume constructive dialogue for lasting peace in the region.