Shillong, June 21: A high-level committee has been formed by the state to discuss the demands of Achik National Volunteer Council, to set up Garoland Autonomous Council, on the request of the Union ministry of home affairs.
ANVC, a major militant outfit of Garo hills, is under tripartite ceasefire agreement with the government for the past seven years.
The spokesman for the ANVC, Torik Marak, said today during his meeting with the Centre’s interlocutor, P.C. Haldar, and the joint secretary for ministry of home affairs (Northeast), Shambhu Singh, the issue of formation of the autonomous council at the earliest was raised.
“I also met chief minister Mukul Sangma, who was camping in Delhi last week, and he told me that a committee has been formed to examine our demand,” Marak said.
He said the formation of the state-level committee was necessitated after the home ministry asked for a status report on the ANVC demand.
According to Marak, the ANVC is hopeful that the committee will submit the report to the Centre this week.
He said the formation of the council does not mean that it will take away certain powers of the state government or the district councils.
“We are asking for direct funding from the Centre once the council is formed,” he said. While there is already a Garo hills Autonomous District Council in Garo hills, the ANVC demand is on the lines of Bodoland Territorial Council, which is different from the existing autonomous district councils in the Northeast.
The autonomous district councils do not get direct funding from the Centre.
Marak said the administration would come closer to the people once the council is formed, unlike the district councils.
“We can work more for the people and accelerate the development process of the entire Garo hills since we will get more power under the proposed council,” he said.
The ANVC leader said the seven-year delay in solving their demand has resulted in the formation of many other militant groups in Garo hills.
He also said Sohan D. Shira, who is the commander in chief of GNLA, was earlier with the ANVC and he was instrumental in forming the outfit, since there was undue delay in addressing various demands of ANVC.
The ANVC, formed in December 1995 had entered into a tripartite ceasefire agreement with both the state and the Centre on July 23, 2004. Since then, the ceasefire with the ANVC was extended periodically.
The first round of political dialogue with the ANVC to discuss the demand was held in March last year, initiated by Haldar.