Staff Correspondent SHILLONG, Dec 5 - Several NGOs under the banner of the Garoland State Movement Committee (GSMC) today held a rally here, demanding a separate State for the Garo community, and urged the Government to constitute the 2nd State Reorganisation Commission.
NGO members under the banner of the Garoland State Movement Committee staging a demonstration in Shillong on Wednesday. – UB Photos
In the rally held at a parking lot adjacent to the additional Secretariat, members of the NGOs sported T-shirts imprinted with their demand and also held placards.
“We want the Government to constitute the 2nd State Reorganisation Commission and take forward our demand for a separate Garoland for the Garos,” Nikman Ch Marak, GSMC chairman, said.
He said that they would pursue their demand in a democratic way.
“Garo Hills remains underdeveloped and backward in relation to the rest of the State,” he said while arguing for a separate Garoland. He added that the Garos have been living peacefully with all the other tribes, but now there is a need to have a separate State.
The GSMC chairman was of the view that despite living with other tribes of the State cordially, the Garos have their own culture, customs, language and a way of governance which is distinct from the other tribes of the State.
Stating that their demand can move ahead if there was political will, Marak reminded the present NPP-led Government that the NPP in its 2014 Lok Sabha elections had promised a separate Garoland for the Garo people.
“We would also like to seek the support of all the political parties for our movement. We will chalk out our agitation programme to press for our demand in the days to follow,” Marak added.
The demand for Garoland has been raised for several years. Late Clifford Marak of the Garo National Council had been a chief proponent. From the Khasi Hills, late Hopingstone Lyngdoh of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party also supported the idea of having a separate State for the Garos.
However, these were individual voices that found little support from the masses and also the different political parties. The Garo community is spread across Meghalaya and also has a significant presence in West Khasi Hills district of the State bordering the Garo Hills districts.
Garos are also permanent residents of Goalpara district of Assam adjacent to the Garo Hills and parts of Bangladesh, especially in the Mymensingh district of that country.
The Garos of Goalpara district have been demanding an autonomous council in Assam. Marak said that at present the GSMC is trying to carve out the proposed Garoland from within the boundaries of Meghalaya and it has nothing to do with any neighbouring State.