ANVC vows to continue with armed struggle for Garo state

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Shillong, Apr 28 (UNI) The proscribed A'chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) has vowed to continue its armed struggle for a separate homeland for tribal Garos in Meghalaya.

The ANVC, which is in a tripartite ceasefire agreement with the Meghalaya government and the Centre, has demanded 'Greater Garoland' comprising the three districts of Garo Hills, parts of West Khasi Hills district, Ri-Bhoi district and a large chunk of Kamrup and Goalpara districts of Assam.

''We would fight for a separate Garo state even if the present Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government is not in its favour,'' ANVC 'Information and Publicity Secretary' Arist Sengsrang N. Sangma said.

The militant outfit also criticised Chief Minister Donkupar Roy for not 'favouring' its demand to have a separate state, despite Nationalist Congress Party leader and Chairman of State Planning Board, Purno A Sangma and Deputy Chief Minister and Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) Chief Hoping Stone Lyngdoh supporting the demand for a separate state, the ANVC leader claimed.

In fact, a fortnight ago, the HSPDP held a joint meeting with the Garo National Council and decided to jointly fight for creation of two states for the Khasi-Pnar and Garo tribal communities.

The HSPDP, with two MLAs in the 60-member House, an ally of the ruling United Democratic Party-led Meghalaya Progressive Alliance, had been demanding a separate state for the Khasi-Jaintia people since 1987 while the GNC raised the demand 14 years ago.

The GNC, which contested the last Assembly election on the plank of a separate Garoland state, failed to win any of the seats in the Garo Hills.

According to the two regional parties, three districts in the Garo Hills region should constitute the separate Garo state, while four in Khasi Jaintia hills for the Khasi-Jaintia state.

However, both the regional parties reiterated their opposition to the proposed Greater Garoland demand of the outlawed ANVC, as both felt that the demand would affect the cordial relations between Khasi-Jaintia and Garo communities.

''It's time the Khasi and Jaintia and the Garo people are separated in the interest of both communities. The people of Garo Hills are facing problems in terms of languages, customs, traditions and cultures with the Khasi-Jaintia people, despite English being the official language of the state,'' GNC president Clifford R Marak had told UNI here.

''We cannot give an inch of our land to the Garo,'' Mr Lyngdoh said.

However, Dr Donkupar Roy said he would not endorse the idea of dividing the state. ''I am not in favour of dividing Meghalaya by bringing a resolution in the Assembly for separate states for tribal Garos and Khasi-Jaintias,'' the chief minister said.

UNI RRK PL RN1608

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