ANVC vows to fight for separate Garoland

Shillong, Sep 18:The A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC), a rebel group in Meghalaya, which would sign a peace accord with the Centre next week, Thursday said it would continue with its original demand for creation of separate Garoland state.
“We will continue with our demand for creation of separate Garoland state (to be carved out of Meghalaya) not under the banner of the ANVC but politically and non-violence after signing the peace pact with the central and Meghalaya government,” ANVC Spokesman Arist Sengsrang Sangma, said.
On Wednesday, the Centre announced the signing of a peace accord with two rebel outfits –  A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) and its breakaway group A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC-B) -operating in the five districts of Garo Hills in Meghalaya September 24 at New Delhi after a decade of holding peace negotiations.
“This issue (Garoland) is very much alive as 80 per cent of our Garo people in Garo Hills wants a state of their own i.e. Garoland. There are political parties, civil society groups besides armed outfit the GNLA (Garo National Liberation Army) demanding for the same (Garoland),” Sangma said.
“Therefore, we will continue to fight for a separate state as central government officials have told us that there is no harm to continue with our original demand for separate but that should be fought through non-violence.”
ANVC, a powerful rebel group fighting for the creation of a Garoland Autonomous Council, entered into a tripartite ceasefire with central and state governments on July 23, 2004.
The group, which operates in five impoverished districts of Garo Hills in western Meghalaya, has scaled down its demand for creation of a separate Garoland state to further empower the existent Garo Hills Autonomous District Council with more subjects under the Council’s administration.
Exhorting other militant outfits, especially the outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), which vowed to continue with its armed struggle for creation of Garoland, the ANVC leader said, “We realised that an armed struggle against the state won’t help us achieve our goal. Many lives have been lost during the armed struggle for creation of Garoland.”
“It is a dream of every Garo to have a separate state of its own and we would achieve this dream only by fighting unitedly and peacefully, but not through bloodshed,” Sangma said.
Meghalaya became an autonomous state in 1971 and a full-fledged state January 21, 1972.
The demand for a separate Khasi-Jaintia state in Meghalaya was first raked up by the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) supremo Hoping Stone Lyngdoh in 1987. For over two decades, the Garo National Council (GNC) has been campaigning for Garoland.
The HSPDP has four legislators, while the GNC has one member in the 60-member House Assembly in Meghalaya.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker and National People’s Party Chief, Purno Agitok Sangma, who won the Lok Sabha election from Tura parliamentary constituency, on the plank of a separate Garoland, had also advocated setting up another state reorganisation committee to look into the small state demand.

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