Chants of “We want Garoland State” rant the air in the national capital New Delhi, on Wednesday, when dozens of supporters for a separate Garo state travelled over two thousand kms from the north eastern state of Meghalaya to raise their demand before the central government.
Over a hundred volunteers comprising members of the Garo Hills State Movement Committee (GHSMC), Garo students Union, Mothers’ Union, NGOs from Garo inhabited areas and traditional Nokmas (custodians of the land) staged a dharna and took out a rally on Parliament street to press for their statehood demand.
The protestors, dressed in colorful tribal attire including Kotip (head gear) and wielding traditional Garo weapons mi’lam and sepi (sword and shield) chanted “No State, No Rest”, “We want Garoland” and “A’chik A’song Tangbanhchina” as they briefly marked from Ramlila Grounds towards Parliament street.
The chairman of the GHSMC, the body behind the separate state movement, Nikman Marak led the gathering in taking a pledge to continue with their struggle until the government accepted their demand.
Addressing the gathering, which included a sizeable number of spectators, many of whom were fascinated with the colorful attire of the protestors and could not hold back from clicking pictures, speaker after speaker highlighted the political struggle for a Garo state.
“Our people’s demand for a Garo state is more than a century old. It began during the period of the first Garo statesman Late Sonaram Sangma in the 19th century. We have confidence in the Constitution of India and urge upon the legislators from the state and centre to listen to the voice of the Garo people,” said Nikman Marak during the rally.
Another youth leader and politician, Roger Benny A Sangma, who participated in the rally reminded all that under the States Reorganisation Act of 1956 the Garos are entitled to a state of their own.
“This Act of 1956 was a major reform of the boundaries of India’s states and territories, organizing them along linguistic lines and paved the way for the creation of new states based on the language of the people. That is why we are rightfully demanding Garoland state comprising of the Garo dominated areas,” said Roger Benny Sangma.
He also added that widespread discrimination of the Garo people in various sectors had further emboldened them to fight for their own state.
“Tura is the second most important town in the state. Yet, it was never made the winter capital of Meghalaya. Had it happened, Garo Hills would have received extensive development and people would not have demanded separation,” claimed Roger Benny while reminding the statehood supporters not to falter as that the struggle would be a long process.
The rally came to an end with a prayer and the singing of an anthem of Garoland state.
Photo Caption: Garoland supporters chant slogans calling for creation of their state during a rally at New Delhi’s Parliament street on Wednesday. ST photo