The surrender of eight rebels of the Garo National Liberation Army near Williamnagar in the East Garo Hills was the “beginning of the end of militancy” in the state, said Meghalaya’s newly-inducted home minister James Sangma on Monday, PTI reported.

The militants gave up their arms on Sunday. These included two AK-56, an Insas rifle, a 9 mm pistol, a .22 pistol, a small machine gun with 65 live round, and a 303 Rifle with 50 rounds, PTI reported. “The surrendered cadres will be receiving a rehabilitation package,” said Sangma. “They will be given much-needed guidance too.”

On February 24, the commander-in-chief of the Garo National Liberation Army, Sohan D Shira, was killed in a police encounter.

Sangma said the Meghalaya government will not negotiate with any organisation that indulges in violence or criminal activities, The Shillong Times reported. “The government of Meghalaya is committed to its goal of ensuring that the state is free of militants and criminals,” he said.

The minister said the consistent efforts of the police department and people’s resistance against militancy had kept the insurgency problem in Garo Hills under control. “The church leaders and NGOs played an important part and were supported by various government departments, especially the police,” he said.