Shillong, May 9: The breakaway faction of A’chik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC) today offered to locate land situated in the region for setting up its designated camp, amid severe opposition from pressure groups and political parties in the Khasi hills.
The government proposal to set up two designated camps for ANVC (B) cadres — in North Garo Hills and along West Khasi Hills-South West Khasi Hills districts — had angered political parties like Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) and Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and pressure groups in Khasi hills.
The KHNAM has even announced it would hold a public meeting on May 13 at Nongstoin in West Khasi Hills to voice its opposition to the setting up of a designated camp in Khasi hills.
The ANVC (B) has reacted to the opposition.
“If the government finds it difficult to find suitable land for our camps in Khasi hills, then we will provide land for the proposed camps, which can be approved by the government. The proposed land will in no way belong to Khasi people. There are lakhs of Garo people living in Khasi hills who own akhings under the name of Garo clans and are governed by the system of Garo nokmaship,” Doang Shira, publicity secretary of the ANVC (B), said in a statement.
Among the Garo community, land is divided into akhing land where members of a particular clan have “usufruct rights” (the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits of something belonging to another).
Shira said the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) never “accessed” the areas falling under the akhing land system.
“There is no development and no facilities compared to other parts of the state. Nor are they successful in setting up any gates or collect taxes from these areas. This is solely because the land belonged to Garo people,” he said.
He said refusal to set up camps “in our birthplaces and the land that belonged to Garo people will violate our rights and deepen the wounds of negligence that we bore through decades”.
Moreover, Shira said the KHNAM, HSPDP, KSU should consider the “genuineness of our demand”.
“We want peace and we would appreciate if things do not get communal. Opposing our proposal will aggravate the situation in Khasi hills. It is our right to demand a camp in our land,” he added.