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Meghalaya finalising comment on rebel group's demand

By The Assam Tribune

SHILLONG, Oct 7 (IANS): Meghalaya will soon give the central government its comments on rebel group A'chik National Volunteers Council's (ANVC) demand for creating a Garoland autonomous council, Chief Secretary W.M.S. Pariat said Thursday.

"We expect to submit our views and comments on the ANVC's demand to the centre within three months," he told IANS, while making it clear that the creation of the autonomous council mainly lies with the central government as it needed a constitutional amendment.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma earlier asked the central government to consider an "acceptable tripartite accord" with the ANVC for lasting peace in the Garo Hills region.

On Sep 30, the central government extended the ceasefire agreement with the ANVC by another three months to facilitate the ongoing dialogue.

The ANVC, a tribal Garo rebel group operating in Meghalaya's Garo Hills region, is fighting for creation of an autonomous council. It entered into a tripartite ceasefire with the central and the state governments July 23, 2004.

The outfit has scaled down its demand for creation of a separate Garoland state to an autonomous council in line with the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam.

"We hope that the state government submits its views and comments to the centre at the earliest to ensure peace and development in Garo Hills," ANVC spokesperson Torik Jangning Marak told IANS.

Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.

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