ANVC bids farewell to arms

Dilash Marak justifies end to armed struggle

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma receives the disbanding agreement from ANVC-B chairman Rimpu Bernard Marak at Tura on Monday. (ST)
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma receives the disbanding agreement from ANVC-B chairman Rimpu Bernard Marak at Tura on Monday. (ST)

TURA: The chapter of armed struggle has finally reached its conclusion for two Garo militant outfits –ANVC and ANVC-B, which once spread fear through the barrel of a gun from 1995 to 2004 — with its official disbanding at Tura before the government on Monday.

The A’chik National Volunteers’ Council and its breakaway faction (ANVC-B) bid adieu to its armed struggle following the signing of the affirmation of disbandment by is leaders before the Meghalaya government in the presence of Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and a host of dignitaries including church leaders and NGOs at the Dikki Bandi stadium, previously called Tura MP stadium.

ANVC chairman Dilash Marak and commander-in-chief Jerome Momin signed on behalf of the outfit while Bernard Rimpu N Marak and Mukosh Marak, chairman and commander-in-chief respectively, signed on the dotted line for the breakaway group — ANVC-B.

A total of 162 ANVC cadres and 285 civilian members were part of the disbanding ceremony. They also surrendered 93 numbers of weapons.

The breakaway ANVC-B cadres numbering 304 members deposited 98 weapons. Among them was a woman cadre who also handed over a weapon.

Interestingly, a majority of the weapons deposited were pistols and rifles with only a handful of sophisticated AK rifles. A sizeable number of bows and arrows were also put up for display at the surrender ceremony.

Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma while speaking at the disbanding ceremony said that the ceremony was a testimony that the use of violence and armed struggle is futile in a democratic set up.

“Today I have reason to believe that the cult of violence will stop with this historic event. The disbanding today will rekindle others to come forward and join the mainstream,” the Chief Minister said.

The ANVC chairman Dilash Marak in his speech during the disbanding ceremony justified his outfit’s transformation from a band of armed rebels to that of a ‘colony of hornets’ but stopped short of expressing any remorse for his group’s misdeeds during the height of its militancy years.

“We have come back to join the mainstream, to bid farewell to arms of conventional weaponry like infamous AKs and instead take up arms of a different kind that do not kill, harm or main the human body,” said Dilash Marak in his speech. “From now on it is not through the barrel of a gun but by the force of the hornet sting toxin,” added Marak while officially announcing the formation of ‘Chel’longma Kotok’ or ‘colony of hornets’- the new name taken by the ANVC following its disbanding.

Prayers and words of peace ranted the air as several speakers including the Bishop of Tura, Rt Rev Andrew R Marak, and senior Hawakhana Baptist Church pastor Rev. Frithing Marak highlighted the need for peace to return to Garo Hills.

The ANVC came into being in December 1995 with Dilash Marak and Jerome Momin forming the armed rebel group to fight for a greater Garoland. The group which was behind a string of attacks and killings signed a ceasefire on 23rd July 2004 in New Delhi and the agreement was periodically estended over the years.

The ANVC-B came into being as a breakaway faction in 2011 over differences within its leadership with Bernard Rimpu Marak walking away from the group to form the B faction alongside another ANVC commander Mukosh Marak.

It was on 24th September, 2014 that a formal text was signed by the union home minister Rajnath Singh, chief minister of Meghalaya Mukul Sangma and the leaders of ANVC and ANVC-B at New Delhi to pave the way for the disbanding ceremony of the two armed organizations.

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