Historic day, says Chief Minister

From CK Nayak

Peace pact signed

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and others with the ANVC leaders during the signing of the peace pact in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and others with the ANVC leaders during the signing of the peace pact in New Delhi on Wednesday.

New Delhi: After more than ten years of signing the ceasefire agreement with the Centre, both the factions of the ANVC on Wednesday signed a tripartite memorandum of settlement (MoS) with the Meghalaya Government and the Centre.

The Joint Secretary in-charge of North East Sambhu Singh signed the MoS on behalf of the Centre and the Additional Chief Secretary KS Kropha signed for the State Government.

Four each from the each ANVC groups headed by their respective chairman signed the document.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and Home Minister of Meghalaya Roshan Warjri were present when the pact was signed.

According to the agreement, both the groups will be disbanded within three months and their cadres will surrender arms and ammunition to the authorities.

The Government will be review all the criminal cases barring heinous ones pending against the leaders and cadres of the Garo rebel group, the MoS said.

The government has agreed to give more powers to the autonomous district council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in the Garo Hills region.

Garo language will also be considered as an official language of the state, official sources said.

The agreement provides for enhanced autonomy for the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council in Meghalaya and also a special package for speedier socio-economic and educational development of the area for which the council had been set up. 13 additional subjects will be transferred to the Garo Hill District Council under para 6 (2) of the Sixth Schedule. After several rounds of discussion, the negotiating teams representing the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Government of Meghalaya and ANVC finalised the tripartite agreement.

The Union Home Minister congratulated Meghalaya Chief Minister, state officials and leaders of ANVC for cooperation extended to the negotiating team headed by P C Haldar, Interlocutor for the Centre.

Former Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who acted as a facilitator and representatives of Garo Students’ Union were also present on the occasion.

The ANVC, formed in 1995 and banned in 2000, had entered into a tripartite ceasefire agreement with the Government on July 23, 2004.

An elated Chief Minister Sangma, meanwhile, described the signing of the tripartite agreement as a “historic occasion” and said it was a strong message to other insurgent groups in the North-East, particularly in Meghalaya, to come to the negotiating table and look for sustainable living. “Modalities for the other major militant outfit HNLC are also in the process,” Sangma said.

“The recently-appointed interlocutor has also received feelers from various groups and the Government is working on them,” he said.

The state Government on its part will also hold talks with the leaders and cadres of other militant outfits if they give up violence and come to the negotiating table, the Chief Minister said.

Meanwhile, the ANVC publicity secretary Arist Sangma said over phone from Delhi that it was a proud moment for them. “We feel happy and proud, as we have achieved this after suffering very long years”, Sangma said

He, however, expressed regret for the inability of ANVC to bring benefits to the Garos living in Khasi Hills.

“We tried to bring benefits to Garo people living in Khasi Hills, but we could not do so and we are sorry for this”, Sangma added. (With inputs from our staff reporter)

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