Our Special Correspondent
In a major embarrassment to political parties and groups that have been crying foul over the inking of the border agreement between the states of Assam and Meghalaya claiming that Garos are facing a bleak future over the deal, the largest and most influential tribal organisations from Assam have demanded a stop to the politicisation of the issue.
The most prominent Garo bodies of Assam — Garo Sahitya Sabha, Garo National Council, Garo National Union, Inter-state Border Association, the A’chik Socialist Youth Front of India, the All Garo Gaonbura Association, the Garo Students Union of Assam Zone along with the Dudhnoi College Garo Students Union — issued the joint statement on Saturday asking the protesting organisations and political parties to stop instigating the border population which is turning detrimental to the inhabitants and creating enmity among one another.
The joint statement was issued after a high profile meeting was called at Dudhnoi town of Goalpara on August 5 in which leaders representing the biggest Garo organisations of Assam attended.
The strong rebuke by the Garo bodies to the political attempts at stoking the flames of hatred is clearly a snub to the opposition All India Trinamool Congress party led by former chief minister Mukul Sangma that has been accusing the state government of trading away precious land belonging to the Garo community to the neighbouring state.
“We appeal to political parties from both the states not to politicise the issue and take political mileage out of border dispute considering that Garos reside on both sides of Assam and Meghalaya,” a joint statement by the group and released by the Assam zone of the Garo Students Union mentioned.
The leaders of the Garo organisations further stated that there should be no conflict between or among the Garo people as to which side they should remain, Meghalaya or Assam.
“No individual or family should be forced or harassed simply by taking the border issue. We urge the other NGOs not to instigate the villagers living in the border areas with bad intention of bringing inter-village enmity or to create any misunderstanding among the members of the villages,” warned the Garo bodies from Assam.
Ever since the border deal was inked at the beginning of this year, various student and pressure groups from Garo Hills have been raising a banner of revolt against the Conrad K Sangma-led MDA government in the state.
Groups like the FKJGP, GSU, ADE, FAF, AYWO and others had claimed that the current state government had given away to Assam precious tribal land belonging to the Garo community and a series of agitations were held which were supported by several affected villagers who expressed reservation in merging with the neighbouring state.
Despite Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma clarifying that the border deal was a win-win situation for Meghalaya and the Garo villages, it failed to cut any ice with the protesting groups and the opposition Trinamool Congress which accused his government of a sell out.