Protest in Meghalaya for Garoland

Shillong, Aug 6 (IANS) Encouraged by the Congress and the UPA coalition's endorsement for Telangana state July 30, the demand for Garoland reverberated in the Garo Hills Tuesday.

The Garo Hills State Movement Committee (GHSMC) -- a conglomeration of several Garo organisations, including the Garo National Council (GNC), a regional political party -- Tuesday began their two-day sit-in protest in front of the deputy commissioner's office in all the five district headquarters of Garo Hills demanding Garoland state.

"We have been fighting for Garoland for a very long time. Our statehood demand is on the linguistic lines of the States Reorganisations Act, 1965 and the government must concede our demand," general secretary Augustine Marak told IANS.

"If the government can give Telangana for the Telugu-speaking people of that state, why can't it create Garoland for the Garos. We (Garos) will not sit idle and will continue to strive forward till the government creates a separate Garoland," Marak added.

The committee has announced a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the entire five districts of Garo hills Aug 8 to further mount pressure on the government.

Meghalaya became an autonomous state in 1971 and a full-fledged state Jan 21, 1972.

The GNC, one of the oldest regional political parties, has been demanding creation of Garoland for over two decades. It has one member in the 60-member state assembly.

The Garo National Liberation Army, a rebel group, is also fighting for Garoland.

Meanwhile, the Achik National Volunteers Council, currently observing a tripartite ceasefire with the central and the state governments, has scaled down its demand for a separate Garoland state to an autonomous council like the Bodoland Territorial Council.

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