Shillong, Jan. 5: The A’chik National Volunteers’ Council today urged both the Centre and the Meghalaya government to expedite the implementation of the settlement process to ensure normality in the Garo hills region.
However, the outfit said it was unsure of contesting the ensuing polls to the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, likely to be held in mid-February, pending approval, signing and implementation of the memorandum of settlement.
Today was exactly a year had passed when the ANVC, the Centre and the Meghalaya government finalised the agreed text for settlement on the issues raised by the outfit. “We want the Centre and the state to speed up the settlement process as we want to come back to the mainstream, and be an example to other militant outfits. An early settlement would be good for Garo hills,” ANVC publicity secretary Arist Sangma today said over phone.
A year ago, a tripartite dialogue was held between the Centre, the Meghalaya government and the ANVC here. The ANVC (B), which broke away from the ANVC, was also a part of the dialogue. The dialogue had set the tone for the signing of the memorandum of settlement with the ANVC as it agreed to the expansion of powers of the existing GHADC.
The ANVC had earlier demanded creation of a Garoland Autonomous Council (GAC). The outfit had wanted that the GHADC should be given more powers. It also demanded at least 10 more seats for the GHADC. The GHADC now has 30 members. From the 40 seats, the ANVC proposed that 35 be directly elected ones, while five, consisting of two ANVC members, two nokmas and one woman would be nominated. However, on this point of granting more seats to the GHADC, the Union home affairs ministry had in December last year sought clarifications from the Meghalaya government.
The contention of the ministry was that although during the tripartite dialogue, the ANVC had demanded for 40 seats for the GHADC, the number did not reflect in the draft memorandum submitted to ministry. Although the state government was yet to reply to the ministry, sources today said the Mukul Sangma cabinet would first meet to discuss on the issue before intimating to the Centre.
On January 8 last year, the Sangma government had given its nod to the agreed text for settlement. Repeatedly, the chief minister had been asking the Centre to approve the agreed text for settlement, which the government believes, would go a long way in restoring normalcy in the restive Garo hills region.
On whether the ANVC cadres would be contesting in the ensuing polls to the GHADC, the ANVC publicity secretary replied in the negative. “We have not decided about (contesting the elections) before the memorandum of settlement is approved, signed and implemented,” he said.
Last year, pending the Centre’s nod on the agreed text for settlement, some militant outfits had cropped up in Garo hills like the United A’chik Liberation Army (UALA), which parted ways with the ANVC (B). The UPA government has barely four months left to complete its unfinished tasks before fresh parliamentary elections are held.