Garo groups in Assam call chakka  bandh over autonomous council

Organisations threaten to intensify stir if pleas go unheard

GUWAHATI: Garo organisations in Goalpara and Kamrup districts of Assam have called a 12-hour chakka bandh on Wednesday in protest against the government’s “apathy” towards their long pending demand for an autonomous council for the community in the state.
The organisations comprising Garo National Council (GNC), Garo National Union (GNU), Garo Gaon Bura Santha, Garo Sahitya Sabha, Garo Mahila Parishad, Youth Parishad and All Achik Youth Federation had recently met at Hudakona near the Assam-Meghalaya border and decided to impose the bandh from 5am on September 12.
Speaking to The Shillong Times on Monday, GNC Assam state zone president, Thengsil Sangma said the organisations decided to call the chakka bandh after repeated pleas and demands for an autonomous council had fallen on deaf ears since 2009.
“The Garo community despite comprising the majority in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council in Goalpara and Kamrup has been neglected on all fronts, be it education, healthcare or agriculture. We have our own identity and culture and so want the creation of an autonomous council to protect our interests and uplift the community. We had earlier in the year met the chief minister and apprised him of our demands but so far the government has remained silent,” Sangma said.  The GNC leader threatened to intensify the agitation if no heed is paid to their demands after the bandh. “We will take recourse to sterner measures if there is no response from the government. At the same time, we would like to make it clear that if any untoward incidents take place during the protest, the Garo organisations will not take responsibility,” he warned. The bandh will affect communication between Goalpara in Assam and Garo Hills in Meghalaya besides disrupting normal life in the adjoining districts.
Meanwhile, the Garo organisations will simultaneously take up the matter of non-inclusion of a majority of border villagers from the community in the complete draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in Assam on July 30.“We have decided to approach the NRC state coordinator in the coming days to seek his intervention as almost 75 per cent of Garo population in most of the 323 villages on the Assam-Meghalaya border has been excluded from the draft. A majority of them are Garo men (sons in-law) from Meghalaya who have moved to Assam after marriage but do not find their names in the draft in the absence of requisite documents or legacy data of 1951 to prove their citizenship,” Sangma said.