As the by-election to be held on October 30 in three assembly seats — Mawryngkneng and Mawphlang in the East Khasi Hills, and Rajabala in the West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya approaches the demand for bifurcation of the state on ethnic lines has gained momentum. The demand to further bifurcate Meghlaya on ethnic lines into Khasi-Jaintia and Garoland states has regularly resurfaced during 50 years since it was carved out of Assam as a full-fledged state in 1972.
It may be recalled that the demand for creation of Garoland also comprising western Assam’s four districts – Chirang, Baksa, Udalguri and Kokrajhar – inhabited by the matrilineal Garo community once become a major issue in the northeast region when the Bodoland statehood movement was its peak.
After the Meghalaya Assembly In 2014 rejected demand for the creation of a separate Garoland state in the western part of the state, The GHSMC had in December 2018 raised the demand for a separate Garoland state.
This time around, with two important regional outfits, The Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and The Garo Hills State Movement Committee forming a coordination committee to press for the demand and a panel for demarcating boundaries of the new proposed states that Meghalaya is to be divided into based on state’s ethnic groups – Khasis and Garos, there is considerable amount of political whispers.
The development is also significant as HSPDP is a part of the National People’s Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government that came into power in 2018. GHSMC is a conglomerate of Seven Garo organisations and a political party named Garo National Council. decided to both have decided to launch a joint movement to intensify their demand for bifurcation of Meghalaya.
HSPDP’s president K.P. Panngmalang informed about the new developments that the exercise was meant to clearly define and demarcate the boundaries of the separate state to be created for the Khasi-Jaitias and the Garos so that” problems do not arise”.
The Garo Hills region, comprising five of Meghalaya’s 11 districts and 24 out of 60 Assembly seats, is spread across 10,102 square km. As per the 2011 Census, this region had 13.94 lakh people compared to the 22.44 lakh spread across the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region covering 15,546 square km.