ANVC decides to exercise adult franchise in Meghalaya

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Shillong, Feb 29 (UNI) The outlawed A'chik National Volunteers' Council(ANVC) has allowed all its ranks to exercise their adult franchise in the comming March 3 Assembly elections in Meghalaya.

The ANVC, which entered a tripartite ceasefire agreement with the Central and Meghalaya Government in 2004, has assured government officials they will not interfere with the Assembly polls.

In a letter, signed by the outfit's Chairman Dilash Marak alias S M Marak, the outfit has clarified media reports mentioning that ANVC was backing one political party or the other.

''Rumours will always be there and the ANVC respect and recognise the people's "right" to choose their own representatives and will remain neutral as far as the 2008 Assembly elections are concerned,'' Marak said.

Urging the Garo tribe to participate in the democratic process, the outfit's chairman asked the people to choose their leaders with wisdom and farsightedness, keeping in mind the welfare of Garo Hills.

''Our homeland and our people deserve better, our poor and our children deserve better, our culture and our future deserve better.

Garo Hills as a whole deserve better,'' he said.

The outfit has also permitted its members to take part in the democratic process and both, individual cadres and senior members, are being given permission to exercise their right to vote for candidates of their own choice.

Incidentally, the outfit's chairman's brother Sengnam Marak is contesting the elections from Ronjeng consitituency against former militant leader of disbanded A'chik Liberation Matgrik Army and sitting MLA Desang M Sangma of the Nationalist Congress Party.

The ANVC, which operates in the Garo Hills and in certain parts of the West Khasi Hills is fighting for its demand for a separate Garoland under the Indian constitution.

Formed in December 1995 and proscribed on November 16, 2000, the ANVC, operating in Garo Hills with an aim to carve out ''Greater Garoland'', entered into a tripartite ceasefire agreement on July 23, 2004.

The proposed 'A'chik Land' comprises the present districts of Garo Hills in Meghalaya and a large chunk of Kamrup and Goalpara district of Asom, parts of West Khasi Hills and parts of Bangladesh.

As per the agreement, two designated camps were set up at Samanda in East Garo Hills district and Chokpot in South Garo Hills to keep the ultras at bay.

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