Clarify peace pact with rebel outfit: Centre to Meghalaya

Shillong, Dec 5: The central government has sought clarification from Meghalaya on the proposed Garoland autonomous council and on finalising a peace accord with the A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC), a union home ministry official said Thursday.

“The union cabinet is yet to decide on the peace accord with ANVC as there are some technical problems in the draft memorandum of agreement relating to strength of the Garoland autonomous council,” Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (northeast) in the home ministry, told IANS.

He said the number of seats of the council did not find mention in the draft memorandum of agreement, though the ANVC and Meghalaya government agreed during the talks that its strength will be 40.

“But once we received the clarification from the Meghalaya government on this matter, we (the ministry) will put up the matter for discussion in the union cabinet before signing final agreement.”

The ANVC had demanded at least 10 more seats for the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), taking the total number of seats to 40.

Of the 40 seats, the ANVC proposed that members to 35 should be directly elected, while those to the remaining five – reserved for two ANVC members, two Nokmas and one woman – should be nominated.

Under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, Meghalaya has three district councils – for the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills – having powers on myriad issues such as forests, tax collection, and so on.

The ANVC, once a powerful rebel group operating in Meghalaya’s impoverished Garo Hills region, has been in a tripartite ceasefire with the central and the state governments since July 23, 2004.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma earlier asked the central government to consider an “acceptable tripartite accord” with the ANVC for lasting peace in the Garo Hills region.

IANS