Meghalaya examining demand for Garo territorial council

Monday, November 29, 2010

SHILLONG - The Meghalaya government was examining the Achik National Volunteer Council’s (ANVC) demand for creating a Garo Hills Territorial Council in the western part of the state, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said Monday.

“The government will come out clear on the stand of the government after examing their (ANVC) demands,” Sangma told the assembly during the question hour.

The ANVC, a powerful rebel group operating in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region, has been in a tripartite ceasefire with the central and the state governments since July 23, 2004 to facilitate the ongoing dialogue.

On March 16, former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief P.C. Haldar initiated political negotiations with ANVC to ensure lasting peace in the Garo Hills.

Sangma also informed the assembly that the rebel group had scaled down their demand for statehood for Garos to that of Garo Hills Territorial Council in line with the Bodo Territorial Council of Assam.

He said the ANVC had submitted a representation to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on their demand.

Chief Secretary W.M.S. Pariat had earlier told IANS that the state government would submit its views and comments on the ANVC’s demand to New Delhi within three months. He also made it clear that the decision on the creation of the autonomous council mainly lies with the central government as it needed a constitutional amendment.

The ANVC, one of the five Garo rebel groups, operates in Garo Hills region and has training camps in Bangladesh.

Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.

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