| ANVC-B cadres in an undisclosed location. File picture |
Shillong, March 18: The alleged reluctance of Meghalaya police to act against A’chik National Volunteer Council (B) cadres prompted one legislator from Garo hills today to question whether the outfit has an “understanding” with the state government.
During the debate on the governor’s address, Garo National Council legislator from Chokpot, Clifford R. Marak, said, “The police never acted on that point. Am I made to believe that there is an understanding between the ANVC (B) and the government?”
Stating that he differed with the view in the governor’s address that the law and order situation in the state was “under control” by citing instances of militant attacks on politicians, Marak, a veteran in the Assembly, said he was presenting his remarks “freely and frankly” on the floor of the House.
The politician, while urging the government to expedite the signing of the draft settlement agreement between the Centre, the state government and the ANVC, regretted that the draft agreement was not mentioned in the governor’s address.
“If you do not expedite the matter, the cadres may become frustrated and may even go back to the jungles. The government has to try and fulfil their demands,” he said.
In January this year, the state government had agreed upon the settlement agreement to be signed with the ANVC, which among others, included enhancement of powers of the existing Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC).
However, the agreement has to receive the Centre’s nod before it can be implemented.
In a lighter vein, Marak, who has been campaigning for a separate Garo hills state for years now, said, “Why can’t we grant a separate state to the Garo hills and the Khasi-Jaintia hills instead of expanding the powers of the district council? A small family is a happy family, so also, a small state is a happy state.”
The legislator also wanted the government to enlighten the House about the demands of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA).
“What do they need? Do they need only money or something else? As of now, there is too much confrontation with the GNLA, and as a result, innocent people are suffering.”
National People’s Party legislator from Songsak, Nihim D. Shira, said the people in his constituency were living in fear. They also could not avail of banking services, as the lone SBI branch there had remained shut for close to a year now. “Songsak has been the most affected place. Shops close soon after 5pm, as the shop owners have been receiving demand notes from militant groups,” he said.
He said the Songsak block development officer and his subordinates were functioning from the deputy commissioner’s office in Williamnagar fearing militant attacks.