Shillong: A week after two armed rebel groups laid down arms and signed peace pact with Meghalaya government, the state government has appointed interlocutors to negotiate for peace with yet another armed Garo militant outfit United Achik Liberation Army (UALA).
"We have appointed interlocutors for talks and they have begun parleys with the UALA militants," state Home Principal Secretary K S Kropha told PTI on Tuesday.
He said the first round of talks were held yesterday at Tura in which modalities for laying down arms and officially joining the mainstream were discussed.
At the meeting, held at the Meghalaya Electricity Corporation Ltd guest house at Rongkhon in Tura yesterday, UALA Chairman Novembirth Marak and its General Secretary Nagra and the outfit's C-in-C Eliast Dakchak and four others were present along with government appointed interlocutors Rev Janang Marak and Rev Frithing D Sangma, both church leaders.
"We officially declare our joining for peace negotiation and our successful round of talks with the government representatives," the UALA Chairman said in a statement to the media today.
He said, "UALA will soon join mainstream paving the way for permanent peace in Garo Hills."
According to the rebel leaders, "The opportunity was jointly discussed and accepted by UALA and the government had reached its logical conclusion."
While the actual membership of the UALA rebels are yet to be ascertained, the government has however warned the outfit's cadre not to involve themselves in anti-social activities to ensure that the talks is successful.
On December 15, the ANVC and its splinter group, the ANVC-B, laid down arms and signed a peace pact with Chief Minister Mukul Sangma at Tura in which over 500 cadre of both the outfits were present.