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Purno backs ‘Garoland’ call

Tura, March 27: The National People’s Party’s candidate for Tura parliamentary seat, Purno Agitok Sangma, today supported the demand for creating a separate state of Garoland, carved out of Meghalaya.

Sangma addressed rallies at Williamnagar, Rongsak and Rombagre in East Garo Hills today where he sought support for raising the pitch for Garoland.

“The voice of the people is more powerful than grenades and AKs. I seek your vote for Garoland,” he said.

Urging all insurgent groups in Garo hills to come forward for peace talks, he said: “Your fight for creation of Garoland through a guerrilla movement is not correct. Instead, be the voice of the A’chik people and bring peace. I will ensure that Garoland is created.”

Lambasting the Congress for its wrong policies in dealing with insurgency, he said: “I will raise the issue at the highest level in Parliament. If we all unite and raise our voice, it will definitely be heard. It is not an essay task but we can make it happen.”

“If you vote for the NPP, you vote for Garoland,” Sangma said, adding, “Will you vote for money and alcohol or Garoland?”

This is the first time that Sangma has raised his voice for creation of Garoland. “I was waiting for the right time to raise my voice. The Garos want a separate homeland. It’s a question of our pride and identity,” he told The Telegraph today.

Sangma said the state government had worked out a compromise policy with the A'chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) to create an autonomous council in the Garo hills similar to the Bodo Territorial Council in Assam — but this was not acceptable to the NPP.

He said the ANVC had signed an “agreed text of settlement” with government on January 5, 2013 to get more autonomy for the existing Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC). Sangma also termed the talks with the breakaway faction of the ANVC as “unconstitutional”. “How could the ANVC (B), which has a separate identity, be part of the ceasefire with its parent outfit?” he asked.