Meaningless bandh

The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) a motley group of disenchanted, beleaguered militants are calling a bandh to protest the visit of BJP President Amit Shah to the State. Their issue is the desecration of churches across the country, attacks on minority institutions, the proposed ban on cow slaughter amongst others. While no one will disagree with the issues raised by the HNLC, a bandh is not the best way to demonstrate opposition to an issue or person. The HNLC have instrumentalised an important issue, mainly to remind us that they still have nuisance value. Since the city of Shillong comprises more government offices, Public Sector Undertakings and banking institutions per sq kilometer, it is likely that the bandh will succeed since the personnel manning these offices are always on the look-out for a paid holiday.

There is much that the people of Meghalaya could protest about insofar as the policies of the NDA Government at the Centre are concerned. BJP MPs and Ministers have been using choice epithets to exacerbate the feelings of Hindu exclusivity by labeling non-Hindus as ‘haramzade.’ While Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of governance and job creation during the election campaign, we are yet to see these promises being rolled out. What we get are distressing signals that minorities have no place in the BJP-RSS’s scheme of things. Except for that single meeting of Bishops that Modi addressed in Delhi where he assured the Christians of protection, the prime minister has made no overtures to minorities to make them feel included. He has not been able to convince the RSS to stop their agenda of reconversion of Christians (Ghar wapasi) to Hinduism. Worse was when Christmas Day was marked out as Good Governance Day! Amit Shah’s visit to Meghalaya could have been a great opportunity for the tribals and minorities to express their disenchantment at the BJP’s policies. A bandh will only keep people indoors and Amit Shah will come here and leave without getting any wiser about the views of the people of Meghalaya as they are held to ransom by a militant group which is of no consequence. It is time people learnt to assert themselves and make their collective grievances heard through open forums.

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