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Centre seeks Achik settlement details

- Union cabinet unclear on seat demand

Shillong, Dec. 5: The Union home ministry has sought clarity from the Meghalaya government about the “agreed text for settlement” with the A’chik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC).

Though almost all hurdles to the agreed text for settlement has been cleared, the ministry was not clear on the demand of the ANVC to increase the number of seats in the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC).

“The Union cabinet is yet to decide on the agreed text for settlement with the ANVC. Certain clarity with regard to the composition of seats in the council was sought from the state,” joint secretary (Northeast), ministry of home affairs, Shambhu Singh, said today over phone.

According to Singh, the matter has been referred to the Meghalaya government for clarification.

“During the discussion, the ANVC had quoted 40 seats, but the number did not reflect in the draft memorandum of agreement submitted by them,” Singh said.

The Centre is awaiting a reply from the Meghalaya government in this regard before proceeding further.

Like the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and Jaińtia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) in eastern part of Meghalaya, the GHADC has 30 members at present. While 29 members are elected from 29 constituencies, one member is nominated.

The three district councils in Meghalaya were created under of the ambit of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The ANVC, which has scaled down its demand from creation of separate Garoland state for the Garo tribe, demanded enhancement of autonomy to the existing GHADC in Meghalaya’s western part Garo hills region and that number of seats in the council should be increased from 30 to 40.

From the proposed 40 seats, the ANVC wanted direct election to 35 seats, while five — comprising two ANVC members, two nokmas (traditional heads) and one woman — would be nominated.

In August this year, Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had announced that an agreement reached with the ANVC would be placed before the government for approval.

Shinde expected that the signing of the final agreement with the ANVC would improve the situation in the area (Garo hills).

The ANVC had entered into a tripartite ceasefire with the Centre and Meghalaya government since July 23, 2004.

On January 8 this year, the Meghalaya cabinet had approved the draft document for settlement with the ANVC, once a powerful militant outfit in Garo hills.

The outfit accepted the draft agreement for settlement during a tripartite dialogue held here on January 5, between Centre’s interlocutor P.C. Haldar in the presence of Union and state home ministry officials.