This Independence Day, a militant outfit in the Northeast will sing along with "colonial New Delhi".
Since it was formed in 1995, the A'chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) had been rocking August 15 - January 26 too - with subversive operations to make a separatist statement. In a first for any extremist group in the region, it has decided to organise a rock concert to celebrate India's 63rd I-Day.
The ANVC seeks self-rule for the Garo tribe dominating the western half of Meghalaya.
The outfit's decision to organise 'Rock for Peace' follows a call by another Meghalaya outfit - Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council - to boycott I-Day celebrations across the State. The United Liberation Front of Asom, Revolutionary People's Front (Manipur) and other outfits have also threatened action against those to side with "colonial India" on August 15.
"We will reach out through music to the people to promote peace, which this region needs," said ANVC spokesperson Torik J Marak. Several rockers and hip-hoppers in Meghalaya have been invited to participate in the concert in western Meghalaya's Tura town.
The outfit also intends to give stage space to talented rebel singers with a gun-to-guitar session.
Marak said since ANVC was working for the freedom of the Garos, it made no sense to curb their rights by enforcing bandh on August 15. "Political issues can be solved through peaceful dialogue. For music loving people here, concerts can be a useful tool for public mobilisation," he added.
ANVC was banned in November 2000 following a series of violent attacks. It signed a ceasefire agreement with New Delhi on 23 July 2004, but like other Northeast militant groups on truce mode, it had all these years been celebrating August 14 as its Independence Day.