Assam Garo group hopeful on council by 2021

GUWAHATI: The United Garo Autonomous Council Movement Committee (UGACMC), the apex body representing the Garo community in Assam, is banking on the BJP-led Assam government’s commitment to fulfill its long pending demand for a separate council within the ruling party’s current term.

Speaking to The Shillong Times on the eve of the third and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Assam, UGACMC chairman, Alex K. Sangma said that chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had recently assured the committee of considering the demand once the survey on the population status of the Garo community in the state was completed.

The UGACMC had started a comprehensive survey, the first of its kind in the state, last month to also examine and analyse the socio-economic and educational (including statistics on graduates, postgraduates, school dropouts) status of the community.

“The Congress government had failed to live up to its commitment of giving us a council on satellite basis during their tenure at the Centre and state,” Sangma said, even as Opposition leaders from the state and neighbouring Meghalaya had campaigned for the party candidate (Guwahati parliamentary constituency) with an aim to woo support from the Garo villages in the border areas.

The Garo community claims to be the second largest ethnic tribe in Assam, after the Bodo community. The population is concentrated in Goalpara and Kamrup districts of Assam (668 villages) and also spread over the other districts of the state.

“A Garo Autonomous Council will help the community determine its own development goals and as of now we are hopeful that the ruling party would fulfill this promise by 2021. Or else, we shall be compelled to take recourse to agitation till the demand is fulfilled,” he said.

On the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which the BJP intends to bring if it came to power again at the Centre, the UGACMC chairman said the committee would oppose the Bill tooth and nail if safeguards such as Inner Line Permit in Assam and Meghalaya were not provided.

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