SHILLONG, March 18 � The Meghalaya Assembly today voted out a resolution demanding bifurcation of the State and creating a separate State for the Garos.
The resolution moved by opposition Garo National Council (GNC) legislator Clifford Marak was defeated by a voice vote. The resolution was put up for vote by Speaker Abu Taher Mondal, after the 68-year-old Marak refused to withdraw it.
Earlier, during his plea for a separate State for the Garos, Marak said that the region has remained backward in comparison to other parts of the State, years after attaining Statehood.
He argued that when the Centre could consider creation of Telengana, there would be no difficulty in submitting a similar proposal to the Central Government for the creation of a separate State for the Garos.
Apart from Marak, Hill State Peoples Democratic Party leader Hoping Stone Lyngdoh supported the resolution and said that the State needs to be divided in two regions, one for the Garos and the other for Khasi-Jaintia people.
In fact, the 85-year-old Lyngdoh has been campaigning for a separate State for the Khasi-Jaintia people for years now and so is Marak for a State for the Garos.
In his reply, Deputy Chief Minister Roytre Christopher Laloo admitted regional imbalance persists in the State. �Some pockets of the State have remained relatively backward. We need to address this issue and we have factored this in our new paradigm of development,� Laloo assured the House.
He, however, observed that division of the State would place more constraints on the State resources and slow down the developmental process.
�For the viability of a State, a certain mass in terms of area and population becomes necessary. Further splintering may only increase the social and economic vulnerability of our people, without yielding any substantial gains in the long run,� the Deputy CM said.
Speaking specifically about the developmental initiatives undertaken by successive Governments over the years for the Garo Hills region, he said, the approach has always been to ensure �growth and development gets distributed in an equitable manner� and �conserve the social, cultural and ethnic identity of the indigenous people of the State.�
In this regard, Laloo added, the governments have taken many important steps to create policy framework and provide equal opportunity to all sections of the people.
Touching on the distance factor of Garo Hills from the State Capital, Laloo said many areas of Garo Hills are more than 300 km away and people have to travel through Assam to visit Shillong. He said that the completion of the Shillong-Nongstoin-Rongjeng-Tura Highway would shorten this distance and bring the Garo Hills nearer.
He pointed out that the Garo Hills region sends 24 legislators to the 60-member House, which is �a decisive representation� and also informed that 40 per cent State jobs are reserved for the Garos apart from creation of new districts and infrastructure for the region.
Laloo concluded by asking �where would this process of division and sub-division stop,� and urged the collective wisdom of the House to reject the resolution.