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Talks delay worries ANVC
Published on 4 Jan. 2010 10:55 PM IST
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The Achik National Volunteers Council, currently under ceasefire, has expressed concern over the delay on the part of the Centre to discuss its demand for constitution of a separate Garoland Autonomous Council (GAC), a self-governing body for the Garo hills. The publicity secretary of the Garo hills-based militant outfit, Arist Sengsrang Sangma, told this correspondent that despite submitting a memorandum to Delhi at the end of last year, the Centre had not yet responded positively. According to Sangma, as the creation of a separate state for the Garos — the main demand of the ANVC — will take many years, they now want immediate constitution of a Garoland Autonomous Council in all three Garo hills districts. “We have come down from our demand for a separate Garoland and now the Centre should initiate discussion to facilitate the creation of the council,” Sangma said. At a meeting with the joint secretary, home, in charge of Northeast, Navin Verma, on September 9 in Shillong, the outfit’s leaders had raised the demand for creation of a separate autonomous body for Garo hills. Though the home ministry official had assured that ANVC leaders would be invited to Delhi shortly after the meeting for a political dialogue, it had not received any intimation from the Centre so far, Sangma said. He said the delay in entering into a political dialogue to discuss the creation of an autonomous body under the Constitution could spread frustration among the outfit’s cadres who are under ceasefire. The proposed Garoland Autonomous Council would be different from the existing Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), Sangma said, adding the district council, created under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, existed only on paper. The outfit’s leader said if the proposed autonomous council was constituted, the outfit would demand direct funding from the Centre. At present, the district council gets funds from the state government. Sangma also pointed out that all the powers of the existing autonomous district councils were taken over by the state government. The ANVC entered into a tripartite ceasefire between the state government and the Centre on July 23, 2004. In July 2008, after a meeting with state government officials and the outfit’s leaders, the Centre decided to extend the ceasefire for an indefinite period. Formed in 1995, the outfit was engaged in an armed struggle for a separate state for the Garos.

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