A hitherto anti-Indian militant outfit in Meghalaya celebrated the nation’s 64th Independence Day with a rock concert in the English and Garo languages.
The A’chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC), a 15-year-old Garo tribal outfit, organised ‘Rock for Peace’ at Tura in western Meghalaya.
“Since we are fighting for the freedom of the Garo people, we realised it made no sense in curbing their rights by enforcing a bandh (shutdown) today (August 15),” said the outfit’s spokesman, Torik J. Marak.
The celebration coincided with a call for boycotting I-Day by another outfit of the state — Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC).
“The ANVC has set a good example by talking the language of peace,” said Tura Deputy Commissioner Sanjay Goyal. “Other outfits should follow its initiative.”
The ANVC had in 2004 inked a ceasefire pact with the Centre, but it refused to budge from its anti-Indian stand until this time.
In Assam, victims of terror in Dhemaji town (470 km to the north-east of Guwahati) flayed rebels for what they (the rebels) did on August 15 five years ago — blow up 14 children at a Tricolour-unfurling venue. Parents of the children the United Liberation Front of Asom killed on August 15, 2005, gathered at the official I-Day celebration site to condemn terror.
“We can have justice only if these terrorists are brought to book and made to pay for their actions,” said Runima Das, a mother who lost her school-going daughter.
In Guwahati, Assam’s officiating chief minister, Bhumidhar Barman, called upon the militants to resolve all issues through negotiations.
He spoke in the absence of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is in Mumbai, recuperating from a heart surgery.
Echoing Barman’s views were the chief ministers of Nagaland and Manipur, Neiphu Rio and Ibobi Singh, respectively. Though on ceasefire mode, many outfits in these two states have refused to be part of the “Indian” I-Day. Their I-Day coincides with that of Pakistan — August 14.
Apart from the HNLC and ULFA, four outfits in the Northeast had called a 17-hour general strike to prevent people from celebrating I-Day. They are the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, Kamatapur Liberation Organisation, Manipur People's Liberation Front, an umbrella group of several Manipuri rebel groups, and Tripura People's Democratic Front.