Demand for Garoland gathers steam in Meghalaya

A committee pursuing Statehood has scheduled a congregation on October 29

Published - October 16, 2022 04:20 pm IST - GUWAHATI

An 1872 map of the Garo Hills at the State Archives of West Bengal.

An 1872 map of the Garo Hills at the State Archives of West Bengal. | Photo Credit: Shiv Sahay Singh

The demand for carving out a State primarily for the Garo tribal people has gathered steam ahead of the Assembly elections in Meghalaya.

Elections to the 60-member House in Meghalaya are expected by February 2023. Elections to the Assemblies of two other northeastern States with the same number of seats — Nagaland and Tripura — would also be held simultaneously.

The Garoland State Movement Committee has in collaboration with the National Federation for New States (NFNS) appealed to the people across the western half of Meghalaya to congregate in Tura on October 29 to take the Statehood movement forward.

Tura is the urban hub of Meghalaya’s Garo Hills comprising five districts and 24 Assembly seats.

“Leaders who have been part of Statehood movements across India would participate in the congregation to back the demand for a separate Garoland State,” Nikman C. Marak, vice-president of NFNS, told journalists on October 15.

“If we work together, we can overcome all the hurdles in our path. We need to support each other and work hand in hand to achieve our long-standing demand of Garoland,” Mr. Marak, also the deputy chief executive member of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, said.

Alleged discrimination against the people of Garo Hills and uneven distribution of resources compared to the Khasi and Jaintia tribes-dominated eastern half of Meghalaya led to the Garoland Statehood movement more than two decades ago.

The Garo Hills region is spread across 10,102 sq. km. According to the 2011 Census, this region had 13.94 lakh people. The Khasi-Jaintia Hills region covering 15,546 sq. km had 22.44 lakh people.

The Meghalaya Assembly had in March 2014 vetoed the Garoland idea. Meghalaya was carved out of Assam as a State in 1972.

A similar Statehood demand was initiated a month ago in poll-bound Nagaland. The Eastern Naga People’s Organisation is spearheading the movement for the creation of the Eastern Nagaland State.

Eastern Nagaland comprises six districts — Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire, Longleng, Noklak, and Shamator. They are inhabited by the Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Phom, Sangtam, Tikhir, and Yimkhiung tribes.

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