Shillong, Sept. 20: A Meghalaya legislator from Garo hills today threatened to resort to an indefinite hunger strike in front of chief minister Mukul Sangma’s residence in West Garo Hills if activists of the Garo Hills State Movement Committee (GHSMC) are not released “unconditionally”.
The reaction from Chokpot legislator and Garo National Council (GNC) president Clifford R. Marak came after 25 persons, including activists of the committee, were arrested last week and sent to judicial custody for allegedly creating a ruckus in the offices of the West Garo Hills deputy commissioner and the District Rural Development Agency.
Stating that the arrested people have been sent from Tura district jail to Jowai district jail in West Jaintia Hills, Marak said this kind of a shift has “never happened before”.
Marak has been spearheading the demand for a separate state for the A’chiks since the early 1990s, following the revival of the GNC.
“As GNC president, I have been spearheading the agitation in a democratic way for a separate state for Garo hills without any arms and violence since 1992,” Marak said in an open letter to the chief minister today.
He also said the committee has been “democratically demanding” for a separate state for the Garo hills, including some areas of Goalpara and Kamrup districts of Assam on “linguistic basis”.
“The members of the committee were arrested on flimsy grounds like molestation. How could this happen inside the deputy commissioner’s office in broad daylight?” he asked the chief minister.
At the same time, he said, “I think, you and your government, on the advice of West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi, gave a serious crime order on the arrested members of the committee, which is contrary to democracy in India.”
Asking Sangma to release the members “unconditionally”, Marak threatened that if his demand is not heeded to, he would stage an indefinite hunger strike near the chief minister’s residence at Hawakhana near Tura from September 26 onwards.
On the inner-line permit (ILP) issue, Marak drew Sangma’s attention to the ongoing agitation in Khasi-Jaintia and Garo hills, spearheaded by pressure groups, and said instead of respecting the “wishes of the people”, the government was trying to bring in the Tenancy Act.
“I, therefore, request you to kindly implement the ILP as recommended by the high-level committee on influx headed by then deputy chief minister Bindo M. Lanong,” Marak added in the letter.