Meghalaya Assessment

Yearly Assessment

2014

The year 2014 has seen rise in insurgency violence, mushrooming of militant groups with formation of many break away groups and at the same time disbanding and signing of peace agreements between the Government and the militant groups ANVC and ANVC-B. With fatalities increasing to 76 in the year against 60 in 2013 (satp.org data), the State was ranked the second-worst insurgency affected state in the Northeast in terms of overall fatalities, with Assam accounting for the highest number of fatalities at 305.

In spite of the rise in fatalities, indices suggest a consolidation of peace in the State. Crucially, civilian fatalities, which had been rising continuously since 2009, registered a decline of 17.86 per cent in 2014, as compared to the previous year, dropping from 28 to 23. Incidents of civilian killing in both years remained at 20. Civilian killings in 2014 were reported from five districts - East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills, North Garo Hills, South Garo Hills and South West Garo Hills. These districts accounted for all the insurgency-linked fatalities in the year, leaving the remaining six districts of the State outside the ambit of fatal violence.

Fatalities among Security Force personnel, which had increased sharply in 2013, over 2012, recorded a decline in 2014. Two Security Force personnel had been killed in 2012; nine in 2013, as against six in 2014. On the other hand, the State recorded the highest single-year fatalities among militants since 1992, with 47 killed in 2014. Security Force’s action led to 27 militant fatalities [in 22 encounters], while another 13 rebel cadres were killed in internecine clashes; seven militants were lynched by angry villagers in 2014. In 2013, militant fatalities stood at 23, including 15 killed by Security Forces; six lynched by villagers; one killed in a factional clash; and another one killed by his own group.

The year saw arrest of 173 militants in 73 separate incidents, as compared to 64 in 2013. Mounting SF pressure also led to rising surrenders. The number of surrendered militants in 2014 was 796, as compared to just nine in 2013. The A’chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and ANVC-B were disbanded at a function at the Dikki-Bandi Stadium at Dakopgre in Tura in West Garo Hills district on 15 December 2014. 748 cadres from both factions - 447 (ANVC) and 301 [of ANVC-B] were present as the ‘chairmen’ of the two militant formations - Dilash Marak (ANVC) and Bernard N Marak (ANVC-B) - signed the Affirmation Agreement at the disbanding ceremony. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, during the ceremony, termed the former Garo militants as ‘misguided outfits’. However, ANVC ‘chairman’ Dilash Marak opposed the statement, observing, "When we started our war we did not follow any example set by any oppressed or suppressed indigenous group. Our minds were crystal clear. We were not misguided..." This dissonance is significant in the context of a multiplicity of other 'peace deals' between Governments in the region and insurgent formations, which have failed to secure an enduring peace. Further, the number of surrendered cadres from each faction was much higher than the Government's estimated cadre strength, creating the potential for future difficulties between these groups and state negotiators.

On 6 June 2014, Chief Minister Sangma had declared that as many as 10 militant groups were operating in Meghalaya. These included – HNLC, GNLA, ANVC, ANVC-B, ASAK, UALA, ANLA, ANLCA, ATF and ANUF. Mr Sangma also provided estimates of the cadre strength of each of these: GNLA, over 200 cadres and about 110 new recruits; ANVC, 163 cadres; ANVC-B, 151 cadres; ASAK, 60 cadres; HNLC and UALA, 40 cadres each; ANLA, 15 cadres; ANUF and ATF, 10 cadres each, and ANLCA, five cadres. Of these 10 groups, the centre of activity of nine was in the Garo Hills, while HNLC operated in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Sangma, moreover, omitted the name of another militant formation, LAEF arguing that the Government did not want to give undue credibility to this 'minor group'. With the disbanding of ANVC and ANVC-B the number of active groups has been reduced to eight.

The State Government continued to bring other Garo militant formations to the negotiation process. On 6 January 2015, Mukul Sangma disclosed that his Government had appointed three interlocutors to hold parleys with various splinter groups operating in the Garo Hills region, with the exception of GNLA. The militant outfits that had declared their presence in the Garo Hills include UALA, ASAK, ANUF, A’chik National Liberation Army (ANLA), ATF, ANLCA and AMEF. Earlier, GNLA ‘commander-in-chief’ Sohan D. Shira, on 5 September 2014, had threatened to conduct a wave of serial blasts in Garo Hills targeting Government institutions and Congress offices in retaliation against Chief Minister Sangma's alleged policy of 'sidelining' Garo outfits in talks, while preparing the groundwork for negotiations with HNLC. Significantly, talks with HNLC are yet to start. On 7 January 2015, HNLC reiterated its readiness for talks, but made it clear that it was not ready for demobilization and disarmament.

GNLA remained the most dangerous outfit operating in the State. Of the 23 attributable civilian killings in 2014, GNLA was involved in eight, followed by AMEF and ANLA, two each. Eleven fatalities remained unattributed. Operation Hill Storm was launched on 11 July 2014 to neutralize GNLA and the Assam based ULFA-I.

Multiple splits in militant outfits operating in the Garo Hills led to an increase in abduction and extortion cases. As observed by the Chief Minister, the major militant outfits operating in Garo Hills region have been demanding a separate Garoland, while the new outfits are mostly groups of deserters from ANVC, GNLA and others, who are mostly engaged in extortion and kidnappings and have no specific demands or ideology. The split in GNLA led to the formation of the Garo National Liberation Army-Faction (GNLA-F) in 2013, which rechristened itself ASAK in February 2014. In 2014, ASAK split further and AMEF was formed. About 54 recorded incidents of abduction took place in 2014, in which 70 civilians were abducted (29 persons were rescued or released, one was killed, information about the remaining 40 not available). In 2013, there were 17 reported incidents, in which 36 persons were abducted. It is always true that open source data on abductions and extortion is severely inadequate to gauge the scale of such incidents, since reported instances is likely to be a fraction of the actual.

The Meghalaya Government agreed that there is shortage of persons in the police force to deal with regular crime, militancy and investigation. The Government, hence, decided to look forward to creating a new infrastructure by dedicating a special unit for tackling insurgency. The Special Multi-Task Force or Special Force 10 will be set up by September 2015, with a maximum of 1,200 recruits.

 

Yearly Assessment

2013

Agitations ranging from demand of statehood to implementation of Inner Line Permit system, formation of new and splinter militant groups, insurgency violence and minimal progress in peace negotiations have marked the year 2013 in Meghalaya. Several new Garo outfits were formed during the year. These include: United Achik Liberation Army (UALA), A’chik Matgrik Liberation Front (AMLF) formed in September, Achik National Liberation Army (ANLA) formed in October, Achik Tiger Force (ATF) formed in November by some cadres of the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), the Achik National Liberation Central Army (ANLCA) formed in November as well as the Garo National Liberation Army-Faction (GNLA-F) and Achik Youth Liberation Front (AYLF), both formed in December 2013. It was only in March 2012 that the ANVC was split with the formation of ANVC-B. In less than a year, another split occurred in ANVC-B with the formation of UALA in February 2013. The GNLA also suffered a major jolt with formation of GNLA-F under the leadership of Reading T. Sangma. The AMLF, ANLA, ANLCA and AYLF are reportedly new outfits. The increase in insurgent groups and factions has deteriorated the security situation in the State, particularly in the Garo Hills.

If we take an account of insurgency related fatalities in the last ten years in Meghalaya since 2003, we find that the highest number of fatalities happened in 2013 with 39 incidents of killing, resulting in 60 fatalities. Of this, 28 were civilian, nine security force personnel, and 23 militants . Six major incidents (each resulting in three or more fatalities) took place during the year. Meghalaya recorded 26 encounters between militants and security forces in 2013, resulting in 18 fatalities. Of these, GNLA was involved in 22 incidents; ANVC-B in two incidents; and AMLF and UALA in one incident each. There were at least 17 incidents of abduction in 2013, with 36 reported abductions. Of these, 26 persons were abducted by GNLA; one by GNLA-F; one by the National democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the remaining being unspecified. In one incident, the ‘area commander’ of GNLA in Songsak abducted as many as 15 secretaries of the Village Employment Council dealing with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). They were later released after payment of Rs.10,000 each from the MGNREGA funds. On the other hand, there were 21 recorded incidents of abduction, resulting in 39 abductions in 2012. There were 17 recorded incidents of extortion in 2013 against 20 such recorded incidents in 2012. The year saw arrests of 64 militants: 40 GNLA, three Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), nine ANVC-B, three UALA, four AYLF, two AMLF and three NDFB.

Talks with the militant formations have not been very encouraging. On December 20, 2013, at the group's 19th Raising Day celebration at Ballonggre near Tura, ANVC ‘chairman’ Dilash Marak alias Susime Marak, expressed his disappointment over the delay of the final settlement between the Centre, State and the outfit. Expressing concern and disappointment, Marak declared that, though the Centre, State and ANVC had signed an agreement in early January 2013, a final settlement was yet to be reached. On 5 January 2013, the Central Government and Meghalaya State Government had signed a draft agreement with both ANVC and ANVC-B, for the enhancement of the powers of the existing Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC). The peace pact with the two outfits now awaits the Cabinet approval.

Significantly, after displaying apparent disinterest in talks with GNLA, a 28 January 2014 report claimed that the State Government had created a channel to bring GNLA to the negotiating table. Governor K.K. Paul announced, during his Republic Day speech on January 26, that the Government had offered the path of dialogue to GNLA. On January 27, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma went further, declaring that an exercise was on to bring the outfit to the negotiating table.

There was an intensive three month long agitation for the implementation of ILP regulations to control the flow of “outsiders”. This resulted in three deaths, several arrests and enormous loss of property. A December 2013 report stated that over 71 pro-ILP activists were arrested in connection with 86 cases related to arson, murder and other charges, during the three-month agitation in Meghalaya. Report indicates that the Border Security Force (BSF), in 2013, arrested as many as 99 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants from the Meghalaya frontier. In addition, the BSF arrested 56 arms smugglers, 40 of whom were from Bangladesh, while the rest were Indian.

The year also saw agitations for a renewed Garoland demand, which has periodically been raised since 1974. The latest agitation was led by the the Garo Hills State Movement Committee (GHSMC) following the resolution of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), on 30 July 2013, to sanction statehood to Telengana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh. GHSMC general secretary Augustine Marak asserted that the Government should consider creation of Garoland based on the linguistic criteria of the States Reorganisation Act (SRA), 1956.

On the other hand, the Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP), on 13 August 2013, renewed its demand for creating a separate Khasi-Jaintia state. The UALA, purportedly formed to fight for the rights of the Garos in Assam, also declared its support for a ‘Garoland’ State in November. The outfit is reported to have links with GNLA, which is also fighting for a ‘Garoland’ State, to include the Goalpara and Kamrup districts of Assam, in addition to the Garo Hills of Meghalaya.

On 25 January 2014, a meeting of citizens from all the districts of the Garo Hills, including non-Government organisations (NGOs) working in the region, was held to initiate a ‘Unified Peace Movement for Garo Hills’. A report dated 6 February 2014 said that the Unified Movement was preparing a “Peace Pact” that would be revealed to the public within two months. In December 2013, Inspector General of Police, Administration and Operations, G.H.P. Raju dismissed the idea of involving the Army in counter-insurgency operations in the Garo Hills. He asserted that with the help of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and with the support of the Central Government, the State Police would win the war against militants operating in Garo Hills. Meghalaya’s present situation, however, gives much cause for concern, and the deteriorating law and order situation needs to be addressed urgently. Fast tracking the raising and deployment of the ‘Special Force 10’ is only one among the wide range of initiatives that are necessary to meet the renewed challenge in the State.

 

Yearly Assessment

2012

A visible politician militant nexus, accompanied by mushrooming of new militant groups, emergence of breakaway groups, reactivation of old groups, escalating demands, and delayed solutions marked the year 2012 in Meghalaya. Two new militant groups – HPLF (Hynniewtrep People’s Liberation Front) and ANUF (A'chik National United Force) were formed reportedly in mid-2012 while ANVC had a split in March 2012 leading to the formation of ANVC-B. The year saw a revival of older outfits, including LAEF (formed in 2005), ANVC (formed in1995 and in a ceasefire agreement since 2004) and HNLC, raised in 1992. Despite some incidents of violence by other militant outfits, the GNLA continued to be involved in the maximum number incidents in the State.

On 2 October 2012, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma admitted to a politician-militant ‘nexus’ in the State and warned lawmakers that they would not be spared if they turned law-breakers. Later, on 31 October 2012, the outgoing Deputy General of Police (DGP), N. Ramachandran, reaffirmed the nexus between militants and politicians in the State, noting that the Police department had received inputs on State politicians hobnobbing with militants. However, he ruled out the possibility of a nexus between political parties and militant groups in the State.

The eagerness of certain militant groups to ‘participate’ in the upcoming Assembly election of 2013 was a noticeable development. On 20 September 2012, GNLA 'chairman', Champion R. Sangma stated that the outfit would support the Congress party, except in two constituencies, in the upcoming 2013 Assembly elections, evoking a sharp reaction from political parties in the State who have alleged that some Congress leaders may have a nexus with the militant outfit. On 19 September 2012, reports noted that GNLA ‘chairman’ Champion Sangma, who has been booked in a total of nine cases and is presently in judicial custody, had decided to contest 2013 Assembly elections.

Reports also indicate that the ANVC-B has decided to jump onto the poll bandwagon and is organizing a mass awareness campaign on adult franchise and democratic rights. The ANVC-B has also declared a non-cooperation movement against the legislators of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) and its Chief P.K. Sangma. ANVC-B has declared that bandhs (shut down strikes) and other democratic protests had failed to make any impact on the Government, and so the outfit would initiate mass awareness on adult franchise and democratic rights. The group has been demanding the resignation of GHADC Chief Executive Member (CEM) Purno K. Sangma on charges of corruption and misappropriation of council funds. On 14 October 2012, the ANVC-B said that the 2013 Assembly elections in Garo Hills would not be peaceful due to the presence of illegal weapons in the area. According to them, several gangs are being sponsored by politicians by providing them with arms.

In 2012, insurgency related fatalities increased to 48, as against 29 in 2011. The civilian fatalities increased to 27 in 2012 from just 11 in 2011. Similarly, militant fatalities increased to 19 in 2012 as compared to eight killed in 2011. On the contrary, fatalities among the Security Forces have declined to just two in 2012, as against 10 in 2011.

Of the 27 civilian fatalities, 22 killings involve the GNLA, two by the ANVC-B, and three were unspecified. Of the 18 militants killed, 15 belonged to GNLA, two to ANUF and one was unspecified. Of the two security force fatalities, the GNLA was involved in one incident, while the ULFA and the GNLA were suspected to be involved in the other incident. The State recorded 20 reported incidents of extortion in 2012, as against nine in 2011. Of the reported incidents, GNLA was involved in 15, LAEF in three, ANVC in one, while one was unspecified.

According to Police intelligence, the GNLA and ANVC-B high commands have lost their influence over local leaders and cadres, with many of these no longer functioning under any direct command. Instead, they are using their own discretion to extort money and intimidate the civilian population in the three districts of the Garo Hills region. The State recorded 39 abductions in 21 recorded incidents of abduction in 2012 as compared to 10 abductions in seven reported incidents in 2011. In 2012, the GNLA was found to be involved in 11 incidents, LAEF in two, Rabha Viper Army (RVA) in one, ANVC-B in one, while four incidents were non-attributable.

Out of the 92 militants arrests in the State through 2012, 55 belonged to GNLA, nine to ANVC-B, eight to LAEF, two to ANVC, one to HNLC, three to ANUF. The remaining militants belonged to neighboring States, including four of the ULFA (Assam), three of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) (Manipur), one from Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL) (Manipur), two from the Ranjan Daimary Faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB-RD) (Assam), one from RVA (Assam) and one from Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) (West Bengal and Assam). One significant arrest included GNLA ‘chairman’ Champion R. Sangma from the Umkrem-Pyrdiwah area in the East Khasi Hills district, on the Indo-Bangladesh border, after he was ‘pushed back’ by Bangladesh on 30 July 2012. In a further setback to the GNLA, the outfit’s ‘foreign secretary’ Briansim Marak alias Bikdot Nikjang was arrested by Bangladesh Security Forces on December 15, 2012, from the Madhupur area of Bangladesh, and was jailed there. The total number of militants to surrender during the year was 14, of which nine belonged to GNLA and five to HNLC. In five bomb explosions recorded in the State through 2012, the GNLA was involved in three.

On 23 November 2012, the Breakaway faction of the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC-B) militants attacked Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) working President, Deborah Marak, at Rongbingrre in East Garo Hills District. While escaping from the area, Marak, her sister and other women supporters sustained injuries. Earlier, on 10 November 2012, ANVC-B targeted a Police vehicle and civilians in the heart of the Nangalbibra Market in the South Garo Hills district by firing indiscriminately at innocent civilians, resulting in the death of two persons and injuries to six others.

In the afternoon of 14 August 2012, West Garo Hills Police conducted an operation inside North Garo Hills district and shot dead two militants, including the ‘commander-in-chief’, identified as Waiston Marak alias Way, of the newly formed Garo militant outfit A’chik National Unit Force (ANUF). The other militant killed was an ‘area commander’, identified as Jakriel Sangma alias Rocky.

The year also saw the arrest of 123 Bangladeshi infiltrators in the State. On 5 October 2012, ANVC-B 'chairman' Rimpu Marak called for "unity among all the tribes to fight against infiltrators." Marak called on all tribals protected under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to unite against infiltrators, who, he said, were crossing borders at an ‘alarming rate’. He also emphasized the need to introduce the Inner Line Permit (ILP) or any similar system to check the flow of outsiders into the State. Growing links between GNLA and the Anti-Talks Faction of ULFA (ULFA-ATF) was noticed during the year. The ULFA-ATF seeks to maintain an open corridor through Meghalaya for movement into hideouts in Bangladesh.

The Government, meanwhile, has shown little or no interest in the demands of the various militant groups, despite their offer of talks. According to a report dated 9 August 2012, the GNLA had announced its willingness to end its armed struggle if the Central Government was ready to accept its demand for creation of a separate State for the Garos, carved out of the present State of Meghalaya. However, Shambu Singh, Joint Secretary (Northeast) in the Union Home Ministry, dismissed such an eventuality on 10 August 2012, stating, “They (the rebels) are always welcome to come out and face trial for their criminal activities. But we are not keen to hold talks with them.” On its 25th Raising Day on 14 August 2012, the HNLC stated it was ready to come forward for dialogue with the Government. However, on 28 August 2012, the State Government brushed aside the outfit’s offer of talks, arguing that the rebel outfit first has to lay down arms and shun violence.

According to another report (November 19, 2012), the Centre has left it to the State Government to decide on the ANVC demand for a Garoland Autonomous Council (GAC) and the desire of ANVC-B to hold talks with the Government. The State Government is now reportedly preparing a draft agreement with the ANVC. On 27 September 2012, the tripartite ceasefire agreement signed in 2004 with the ANVC was extended for one more year, following a joint ceasefire-monitoring meeting.

 

Half Yearly Assessment

2011

The year started with inter-tribal clashes in the state on the very first day of 2011. On that day, clashes erupted between the Garo and Rabha tribes in the Assam-Meghalaya border. It all started when the Rabhas attacked a wedding party of the Garos and targeted a Garo pastor. The ensuing clashes claimed the life of at least 10 persons and displaced about 50,000 people from the East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya and the Goalpara district of Assam. Hands of some militant groups were suspected behind the clashes. On January 10, 2011, Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (North East), Union Ministry of Home Affairs, stated that the clashes appeared "well-planned" and did not rule out the hand of "underground groups."

The significant incidents in 2011 included:

January 1: Clashes between the Garo and Rabha tribes erupted when the Rabhas attacked a wedding party of the Garos and target a Garo pastor.

January 5: Four persons were killed in two separate incidents in the Bajengdoba section in the ethnic turmoil between the Garos and the Rabhas.

January 9: Two people were killed and 12 injured in violence in riot-hit areas of Meghalaya-Assam border. Several houses and trucks carrying supplies to the riot-hit areas in Meghalaya were also torched at Paikan area on the inter-state border.

April 5: Suspected militants belonging to the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) raided a depot belonging to one of the biggest coal exporters of Garo Hills and shot dead five of its labourers and injured one seriously in the interior of South Garo Hills district.

June 4: Suspected GNLA militants killed three police personnel and injured two others in an ambush at Thapadarenchi village in East Garo Hills district.

The GNLA was involved in most of the insurgency-related incidents in the state during the first six months of 2011. On April 5, 2011, GNLA militants raided a depot belonging to one of the biggest coal exporters of Garo Hills and shot dead five of its labourers and injured one seriously in the interior of South Garo Hills district in retaliation for the exporter’s failure to submit to its extortion demands. Again on April 14, 2011, GNLA militants attacked a gas station by lobbying a crude bomb in the heart of Mendipather town. On June 4, 2011, suspected GNLA militants killed three police personnel and injured two others in an ambush at Thapadarenchi village in East Garo Hills district. On February 4, 2011, they abducted the proprietor of a Reliance petrol depot from South Garo Hills district's Gasuapara area near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya. On March 21, 2011, GNLA militants laid an ambush on the convoy of the SDO of Resubelpara in East Garo Hills. The militants opened indiscriminate fire inside a jungle road across the Simsang river of Williamnagar town. The encounter lasted close to 15 minutes in which neither side suffered any casualty as the militants managed to escape.

The security forces managed to achieve success in the counter-insurgency operations in the state. They were able to arrest many cadres of the militant outfits of the state as well as from the neighbouring states. All together 27 militants, including 5 anti-talk faction militants of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), were arrested in the first six months of 2011. The security forces also busted two militant camps belonging to GNLA in East Garo Hills district.

The ceasefire with the militant group Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), which is in ceasefire with the government since 2004, was extended for three months on June 30, 2011. The outfit was, however, concerned over the slow pace of political negotiation for the creation of an autonomous council, due to political instability in the state. They are demanding for the creation of a Garoland Autonomous Council (GAC) in line with the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam.

The insurgency in Meghalaya is yet to completely finish off. The emergence of the GNLA has heavily impacted the law and order situation in the state. The security forces need to bring this outfit under control soon, so as to end the era of insurgency in the state.

Yearly Assessment

2010

Meghalaya displayed a reverse trend compared to that of the other states in the Northeast, with an increase in the number of insurgency-related casualties in the year 2010. As compared to 2009, when 5 fatalities were reported in insurgency-related incidents, the year 2010 registered 20 fatalities. Also the number of insurgency-related incidents increased from 50 in 2009 to 73 in 2010. Out of the seven districts of Meghalaya, insurgency-related incidents were reported from six districts.

The significant incidents of 2010 were:

January 16: Two activists of Liberation Achik Elite Force (LAEF) were killed and another injured in a gunfight with security forces in Songsak area bordering South Garo Hills and West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya.

June 26: Two top leaders of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) were shot dead by a combined force of the Army and the East Garo Hills District Police during an encounter in Kharkutta area in East Garo Hills district bordering Assam.

October 9: At least eight people were injured in a bomb blast triggered in a shopping place at Tura in West Garo Hills district. The blast was suspected to be the handiwork of the GNLA.

November 17: Suspected GNLA militants killed two coal miners and attacked a petrol pump in South Garo Hills district.

December 2: Garo Hills Police gunned down Nikseng G Momin, chief of the LAEF inside the Darugre Reserve Forest in Rongjeng area, close to remote West Khasi Hills district.

December 10: Four militants of the breakaway faction of the GNLA, including its leader, Jokin Momin, were killed during an encounter with Police in East Garo Hills district. Five militants were arrested while at least one managed to escape with a bullet injury in the encounter.

Security forces achieved significant success against the insurgents in 2010. On December 2, 2010, Garo Hills Police gunned down Nikseng G Momin, chief of the LAEF inside the Darugre Reserve Forest in Rongjeng area, close to remote West Khasi Hills district. Again on December 10, 2010, security forces killed four militants of the breakaway faction of the GNLA, including its leader, Jokin Momin. Two top leaders of the GNLA were also killed on June 26, 2010 during an encounter in Kharkutta area in East Garo Hills district.

The security forces were also able to arrest a few top leaders of the militant outfits in the state. On January 13, 2010, security forces arrested Shembhalang Dkhar and Roy Kupar Marbaniang, the 'commander-in-chief' and 'chairman', respectively of the newly formed militant group Hynniewtrep Liberation Front (HLF) from Shillong. On May 15, 2010, the ‘general secretary’ of GNLA, Novembirth Ch. Marak, was arrested from New Jalpaiguri railway station in West Bengal. On the same day, the security forces arrested GNLA’s ‘finance secretaries’, Solte Marak and Martin from Williamnagar in East Garo Hills District. The continued counter-insurgency operations also resulted in surrenders. 17 militants, including the LAEF ‘chairman’, Dimrim N Sangma alias Ramen, surrendered to the security forces in 2010.

The major insurgent groups in the state have weakened over the years. Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) is now a shadow of its former self. Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) is in ceasefire with the government since 2004, with the ceasefire periodically renewed. However the emergence of a few new insurgent groups has become a cause of concern. The GNLA, formed in 2009, has become quite active in the state, getting involved in killing, abduction, extortion and attacks on security forces. On November 17, 2010, suspected GNLA militants killed two coal miners and attacked a petrol pump in South Garo Hills district. On October 9, 2010, GNLA militants triggered a bomb blast in a shopping place at Tura in West Garo Hills district injuring at least eight people. The outfit also runs a wide extortion network in its areas of influence. Two more new outfits, Hynniewtrep Liberation Front (HLF), formed in 2009, and Hynniewtrep Tiger National Front (HTNF), formed in May 2010, are also trying to extend their influence in the state.

Meghalaya continues to be the meeting point for the insurgent groups of the Northeast. The state capital, Shillong, is still the favourite place for arms dealers of the region as well as from Myanmar. The state is also used by the insurgent groups of the region, such as ULFA and NDFB, to move to and fro from their base camps in Bangladesh.

Meghalaya is one of the peaceful states in the Northeast. But with the birth of a few new insurgent groups in the state, the situation may not remain so. The political instability in the state has also worsened the problems. Unless the political atmosphere in the state is stable and the new insurgent groups in the state are nipped in the bud, the state may enter into a vicious cycle of insurgency.