Settlement with Garo rebels on anvil: Meghalaya CM
Shillong: A "historic settlement" is on the anvil to resolve the issues raised by rebel A'chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) group Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said Wednesday.
"Negotiations with ANVC for arriving at a permanent settlement have reached the final stage. I have been informed by the (union) ministry of home affairs that a tripartite meeting is being convened on January 5 in Shillong," Sangma said in a newspaper advertisement here.
"The issues raised by ANVC too have always received the highest consideration of the governments. Let us approach the tripartite meeting with an open and constructive frame of mind keeping the interests of the people of the region as upper most," the message read.
Sangma said guided by this framework, it should be possible to find a settlement acceptable to all stakeholders.
ANVC, a powerful rebel group fighting for the creation of a Garoland Autonomous Council, entered into a tripartite ceasefire with central and state governments on July 23, 2004.
The group, which operates in five impoverished districts of Garo Hills in western Meghalaya, has scaled down its demand for creation of a separate Garoland state to an autonomous council in line with the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.
However, the ANVC-B, a breakaway faction headed by Bernard N. Marak, stuck to its demand for a Greater Garoland in the western Meghalaya.
Welcoming the central government's initiative, the chief minister said Garo hills had suffered enough due to militancy.
"They now look forward to reverting to a period of peace, harmony, growth and development. Let us all work together to grant them this as a New Year gift," Sangma said.
Urging ANVC-B too to join the meeting, Sangma said: "If they have the welfare of people of Garo hills as their priority, they should take advantage of this occasion and contribute to arriving at a settlement."
"I trust the leadership of this faction would respond to my earnest appeal and join hands with us in concluding a historic settlement," Sangma said.