SHILLONG, March 18 (IANS): The Meghalaya assembly Tuesday rejected a resolution for creation of a separate state in the Garo Hills in the western part of the state.
The resolution was moved by lone Garo National Council member Clifford R. Marak whose party has been demanding a separate Garoland for over two decades.
"The demand for separate Garoland state was raised due to lack of economic development and also due to linguistic barriers with the Khasi-Jaintia tribes inhabiting eastern Meghalaya," Marak told the assembly.
"If the state government is willing, they can take up the issue with the centre and help us to achieve our goal for creation of a Garoland state," said Marak.
Supporting the resolution, veteran Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) legislator, Hopingstone Lyngdoh said there is need to bifurcate Meghalaya due to major differences in language, culture, customs, traditions, local governance and land holding system which has necessitated the need for a separate state for the Khasis-Jaintias and the Garos.
The HSPDP has four members in the 60-member house but three of Lyngdoh's party colleagues did not participate in the discussion.
However, Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Roytre Christopher Laloo said division of the state would increase the social and economic vulnerability of the people.
"Further division of the state would place even more constraints on our resources. The developmental process will suffer. For the viability of a state, a certain mass in terms of area and population becomes necessary," Laloo said in his reply to the resolution in the assembly seeking creation of a separate Garoland state.
"In the name of preservation and protection of the identity, shall we finally split into the political units aligned on the basis of tribal clans and sub-clans? Would that not take us back surely to the Stone Age again? Would that characterise us a civilized society," the deputy chief minister asked.
Stating that the Garo Hills region has witnessed improvement in its socio-economic profile since the emergence of Meghalaya, Laloo said the region sends a decisive presence of 24 members to the assembly, besides having its own autonomous district council.