Rakesh Sangma taking over as CEM

Shillong: Following criticism over the newly-elected Chief Executive Member (CEM) of Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Monday stated that Rakesh Sangma was elected in a democratic way.

CM Sangma defended the NPP CEM, stating that there was no interference from their end.

The chief minister also said the GHADC is facing numerous issues at the moment and that it’s important that the people and the members realise that they need to focus on the more important issue of stabilizing the council.

Meanwhile, agitating groups from Garo Hills opposed to the appointment of MDC Rakesh Newar Sangma as the CEM said their opposition is justified and that they cannot accept Sangma.

The groups comprising the GSU, FKJGP, ADE, FAF, AYWO and NESO, in a statement, pointed out that Rakesh and his siblings have always identified themselves as ‘Newar’ and not ‘Sangma’ since school days. This was later changed to Newar Sangma in college.

They added that it was only prior to the GHADC elections that Rakesh filed an affidavit and started identifying himself as Rakesh A Sangma.

“We suspect that it was politically conducive for him to identify himself as a bona-fide Garo to contest the election as the seat (7 Babelapara Constituency) from which he contested was a tribal majority electorate and people may not have taken very kindly to a non-tribal candidate,” they stated.

The groups added that though Rakesh’s mother belongs to the Agitok clan, none of his family members has ever practiced the matrilineal culture of the Garo society.

“They have always practiced the culture, tradition and religious beliefs of their father, who belongs to the Newar clan of the Nepali community. We are pointing out these facts not to malign him or his family members. However, these facts are important to be mentioned to understand our opposition to him being appointed as the CEM of GHADC,” the groups said.

“Our greatest objection of Rakesh A. Sangma being elected as the CEM of the GHADC is because the council exercises judicial power of the highest authority in all traditional civil cases. The civil cases involve sensitive issues with regards to our traditional institutions and land,” stated the group.

The combined groups made an appeal to all political leaders of the state in general and the politicians of Garo Hills in particular to take note of their concerns and overturn the decision to appoint Rakesh A Sangma. A separate appeal was also made to Sangma to resign from the post owing moral responsibility.

The groups, while reminding of the night road blockade being called all over Garo Hills from February 8 to 11, warned that until and unless Rakesh Sangma is removed from his post or he voluntarily steps down, the civil disobedience movement would continue and more stringent steps would follow under different phases.

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