Militancy, nature's fury pound Meghalaya in 2014
The Garo Hills region of Meghalaya witnessed unrest throughout 2014 with militant groups fighting a turf war over creation of separate homelands besides being pounded by floods but a peace pact signed with two outfits provided a glimmer of hope in the northeastern state.
Shillong: The Garo Hills region of Meghalaya witnessed unrest throughout 2014 with militant groups fighting a turf war over creation of separate homelands besides being pounded by floods but a peace pact signed with two outfits provided a glimmer of hope in the northeastern state.
Flash floods and landslides in September claimed over 60 lives and damaged over Rs 1500 crore of property mostly in the West Garo Hills region. This was the worst natural calamity that struck the state in the past century.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma sought funds from the Centre for rebuilding the damages. The disaster however, called for an urgent rethink on how to work to mitigate loss of life and severe damages in the event of nature's fury.
Militant activities saw a rise during the year with rebels triggering blasts and killing people.
As the state battled with home-bred militants, an incident of a woman's head being blown into pieces by suspected GNLA militants in June suspecting her to be a police informer shocked everyone.
With the incident grabbing headlines, police launched Operation Hill Storm to flush out militants from their hideouts in the jungles.
This resulted in the killing of several cadres, arrest of over 30 militants belong to GNLA, ULFA, ASAK and other smaller militant groups while over 15 of them surrendered with a huge cache of weapons and ammunition.
In November, Home Minister Roshan Warjri resigned owning responsibility for the law and order crisis in Garo Hills region.
Amid all this action, the peace pact signed with one of the oldest militant groups, the Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and its break-away faction, the ANVC-B, in October, was one of the high points for the state.
Both the factions laid down arms on December 15 at Tura where Chief Minister Sangma said his government was committed to bring another rebel group in the Khasi Hills region, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), to the negotiating table.
As the year began, ANVC-B leader Ajaju R Marak alleged that Sangma and Congress had a "nexus" with a militant group, leading to demands for a CBI probe by Opposition parties.
Sangma dismissed the allegations as "malicious and distasteful" and a "deep-rooted conspiracy to malign" his image.
In January, pressure groups demanding implementation of the 140-year-old Eastern Bengal Frontier Regulation Act which restricts entry of outsiders in the state, suspended their four-month-long agitation after the state government promised to "look at the existing laws, integrate them and also supplement them to arrive at an institutionalise mechanism to tackle the issue of influx and illegal immigration".
Meghalaya's oldest voter and first Padma Shree winner Silverine Swer passed away on February 1 at the age of 103 after a brief illness.
In June, the state government approved dissolution of the CMJ University following a Supreme Court directive after the self-financed university was allegedly found selling fake PhD degrees to students in violation of UGC norms.
After a ban imposed by National Green Tribunal on unscientific rat-hole mining of coal in Meghalaya, the Comptroller and Auditor General in June rapped the state government for not taking effective steps to control acid mine drainage as suggested by the pollution control boards.
Normal functioning of North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) was hindered in August as thousands of students staged protest demanding sacking of a professor accused of sexually assaulting a woman research scholar.
On December 17, the term of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) was extended by a month by the state government for the third time to complete the process of elections.