Shillong, May 8: The ANVC has made it clear that all its cadres were part of the peace process from the very beginning, contrary to the claim of chief minister Mukul Sangma that a faction of the outfit’s ANVC cadres did not join the ceasefire agreement in 2004.
The chief minister recently said a section of the outfit’s cadres, which did not join the tripartite ceasefire agreement in July 23, 2004, formed another rebel group, named the ANVC (B), a breakaway faction of the mother organisation led by Mukost Marak.
The chief minister had also said the government came to know about the existence of the breakaway faction of ANVC (B) only last year.
In reply to queries via email by this correspondent, ANVC publicity secretary Arist Sengsrang Sangma said it was not true that a section of cadres abstained from the ceasefire.
According to Arist, the chairman of ANVC, Jerome Momin, and the commander-in-chief Dilash Marak had appointed general secretary Wanding K. Marak the leader of the contingent that went to New Delhi to sign the ceasefire agreement.
Along with Wanding Marak, six representatives of the ANVC, joint secretary Janggam Momin, publicity secretary Arist Sengsrang Sangma, West Khasi Hills commander Ranggam Marak, South Garo Hills commander Goran A. Sangma, East Garo Hills commander Batjang (Sohan) D. Shira and West Garo Hills commander Chenang Ch. Marak signed the tripartite ceasefire agreement.
“Thus, all the cadres and the leaders were included in the agreement,” Arist said.
The ANVC leader said as all the members of the outfit were represented by their leaders, there was no exclusion of any of the cadres from the purview of the ceasefire.
“Hence, the question of some cadres not taking part in the peace process does not arise,” he said.
On the chief minister’s stand that the ceasefire agreement with the ANVC was made in a hurry by the Centre, the ANVC leader, however, said the agreement was made at the right time and, in fact, it was the solution that has been delayed.
“Mukul Sangma says the ceasefire agreement was made in a hurry, but if the government was serious about finding a solution to the problem in a hurry, the fallouts, like formation of the GNLA and ANVC (B), could have been prevented,” Arist said.
According to the ANVC leader, the ceasefire agreement is still intact since all the signatories, except Batjang D. Shira (ex-ANVC leader Sohan Shira, who is the current commander-in-chief of GNLA), are still present with the mother organisation.
“Even the chairman and the commander-in-chief of the ANVC are adhering to the norms set by the government. No signatory of the ceasefire agreement has joined the ANVC (B) and even the 15 cadres, including Mukost Marak, who deserted the ANVC, were very much with the outfit during the signing of the ceasefire agreement.
The ANVC leader admitted that before the Congress-led UPA government signed the ceasefire agreement in 2004, it was the BJP-led NDA government, which had initiated the peace process.
“The then Union home minister L.K. Advani took the initiative to bring the ANVC to the negotiating table,” Arist said.
On Mukost Marak deserting the ANVC, Arist said after Mukost was entrusted with the West Khasi Hills command, he was with the ANVC for long and it was only in February this year that he absconded and later declared himself as the commander-in-chief of ANVC (B).
All the cadres, including Mukost, were with the ANVC from the beginning and they all had identity cards of the outfit, Arist said.
Asked why Torik Marak, the former spokesperson for the ANVC left the outfit and became the chairman of ANVC (B) with the name Rimpu Marak, Arist said the exact reason was not known.
“We cannot comment on why exactly he left the ANVC, except that he was probably not satisfied with the organisation or he probably had some aspirations of his own and wanted to fulfil it through other means. But we do not have any enmity with him,” Arist said. In April this year, Rimpu Marak became the chairman of the ANVC (B).
The ANVC leader said so far only 15 ANVC cadres from the mother organisation joined the ANVC (B).