Once they used to speak the language of guns. Now they have chosen the strings of the guitar to send across their message.
While six militant groups have called for a boycott of Independence Day celebrations in the Northeast, one outfit is organising a rock concert for peace to mark the day.
The Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), under ceasefire since 2004, has organised Sunday’s rock concert at Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills in Meghalaya.
Another rebel group in Meghalaya, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), has called for a 36-hour bandh the same day.
ANVC spokesman Torik K. Marak said the concert will start at 3 pm at the district auditorium. “Five prominent bands of Tura will perform, including some members of the outfit.”
“ANVC is not into violence. Our objective is to focus on peace in the Garo hills. We are very serious about the peace talks with the government,” Marak said from Tura.
The district administration is supporting the move.
“They (ANVC) have ceased all operations against the state. They came up with this idea. We have all reasons to support them,” district commissioner Sanjay Goyal said, adding that the initiative would send a positive signal and create an atmosphere of faith.
“It is a welcome gesture by the ANVC but sadly enough, it does not percolate down to the HNLC’s head,” observed S.B. Kakati, the state DGP.
Formed in December 1995, the ANVC entered into a tripartite ceasefire agreement on July 23, 2004, which has been extended every three months.
In March, the ANVC had a meeting with the Centre's interlocutor over their demand for a separate Garoland Territorial Council, an autonomous body for all three districts of the Garo Hills.