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Home > India > News > Report

Meghalaya: Militant leader's brother among Cong candidates

K Anurag in Guwahati | February 21, 2008 16:10 IST

The Congress has selected the brother of the leader of a banned insurgent group to contest arch rival Nationalist Congress Party's candidate in the upcoming assembly elections in Meghalaya.

 However, the Congress claims that the move is not aimed at appeasing any rebel group and the candidate in question was selected after assessing his eligibility and potential to emerge a winner.

Achik National Volunteer Council chairman Dilash R Marak's younger brother  Sengman Marak is the Congress candidate from Rongjeng constituency at East Garo Hills district in Meghalaya.

The ANVC, a banned outfit, is considered the most influential militant group in the Garo hills region of Meghalaya. The insurgent group, formed in December 1995, signed a ceasefire agreement with the Centre in 2004.

The main demand of the ANVC is the formation of a separate 'Achik Land', a homeland for the Garo tribe in Garo Hills areas of Meghalaya. 'Achik Land' comprises the present districts of Garo Hills in Meghalaya and a large chunk of Kamrup and Goalpara districts of Assam.

A highly-placed source in the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee, however, justified the selection of the ANVC chairman's brother. He claimed the party had selected Sengman Marak after thoroughly assessing his eligibility and chances of winning the elections.

The Congress said that the selection of Marak was not intended to appease a rebel group or send across a message to them. Sengman  Marak will be contesting against former militant-turned-politician Desang Sangma, the former general secretary of the now disbanded Achik Liberation Matgrik Army.

Desang, who is an NCP nominee, was elected from the Rongjeng assembly constituency in the  by-election held in 2006 after defeating his Congress rival. The ANVC had earlier assured the state administration that it would not meddle in the forthcoming assembly elections in Meghalaya.