December 10, 2023

Upheaval In Meghalaya

WHY IN THE NEWS?

Recently, a former militant of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), was killed in a police encounter that has led to a crisis in Meghalaya.

Background:

  • Meghalaya shares a border with Bangladesh and has seen decades of migration from the neighbouring country as well as from other parts of India – Bengal, Punjab and Bihar.
  • This has sparked anxieties of indigenous communities who feared becoming a “minority in their own homeland” because of the influx of “outsiders”.
  • It was a culmination of these “anti-outsider sentiments” that led to the formation of Meghalaya’s first militant group, the Hynniewtrep Achik Liberation Council (HALP), in 1992.
    • Hynniewtrep represented the Khasi and Jaintia communities and Achik represented the Garo community.
  • HALC was later divided and HNLC came into being that represented the Khasi and Jaintia communities and the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army that represented the Garo community.
    • The Achik Matgrik Liberation Army was later replaced by the Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC).
  • HNLC claimed to represent only the interest of Khasi Communities, whereas, the Achik Matgrik Liberation Army demanded a separate state for the Garo community.

Present Status of militancy in Meghalaya:

  • The ANVC since 2004 has been under an extended ceasefire agreement with the government while the HNLC has been trying to talk peace with the government but on a conditional basis.
  • Over the last several years, militancy in Meghalaya was seen as declining.
    • In 2018, the Centre withdrew the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Meghalaya after almost 27 years of witnessing a decline by 80% in insurgency-related incidents.
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