Disappointed at the failure of the state government to release their rehabilitation packages, former members of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) today met Chisobibra in East Garo Hills to seek ways to push forward on the matter.
In 2016 more than 200 members of the banned outfit surrendered to the state after assurances of a financial package to help rebuild their lives were given. However, despite the passage of five years, the government is yet to fulfil its promises.
“We are meeting today to request the government to release our economic packages so that most of the misguided youths of the region do not get into petty or bigger crimes. The money that the central government has promised to us will go a long way to bettering the lives of most of us,” said former so-called foreign secretary, Briyan Sim Marak.
More than 70 members of the outfit met today at Chisobibra. Many complained that even the basic package that was promised to them has not been provided.
According to a central government order for militants from the North East, surrendered cadres are to be provided Rs 4 lakh, which will be put into a fixed deposit for three years before being provided to them. Further, a stipend of Rs 6,000 per month will also be paid to them for a three-year period to help them rehabilitate.
Some of the surrendered militants have reported received around Rs 1.5 lakh but none has been given the full amount as promised.
“There have been reports that many surrendered GNLA cadres have been involved in petty crimes. However, how can they be blamed? The state government needs to be blamed as they have not been given what was promised to better their lives,” added Rupanto Marak, the former deputy commander in chief.
On the issue of arms and ammunition that was submitted to the government, the former outfit members asserted that the incentive for surrendering them has also not been provided.
“We surrendered everything to the government when we came overboard. There may be recoveries made in various parts of Garo Hills on a regular basis, but we have no connection with these hidden weapons,” said Rupanto.
The former GNLA men further expressed anguish over the fact that the government’s promise of dismissing most of the cases against them has not been lived up to.
“We have not been given support by the government on the issue of cases. Various cases are lodged in various places which makes it extremely difficult for us. We request these cases be put through to only one place for the benefit of all. Also we seek the dismissal of these cases so that we can move on with our lives,” said Briyan, adding that despite the troubles they do not want to return to militancy.