It was sad to learn about the death of Dana M. Sangma. It is true that people from the North East are singled out in other states because they look different. This said, it is a sad fact that hundreds of children from Meghalaya have to move to other states in search of suitable degrees or careers. This search is putting them in potential jeopardy. I hope the CM, Dr Sangma takes serious note of this issue. He mentioned as quoted in today’s edition of the Shillong Times, “This is the reason why I want our State to set up good, state of the art educational institutions so that our children need not go out and enroll themselves in all kinds of institutions.”
Let’s hope these are not idle words and that the CM moves heaven and earth to get things moving in the state. If a tragedy like this in his own family does not move him to action – nothing ever will.
A dear friend lost
As far as I knew Dana (mistakenly printed as Dayna in the paper) she was a very sincere girl. I was her classmate in school and the news of her death came as a shock to me. What was more shocking is that she had committed suicide, which is hard to believe. Dana was a very jolly girl and fun to hang around with. Recently I had a chat with her and she told me that she would be home next month and that we would meet up. But sadly that is not going to happen. If the story about racial abuse is true, then strict action must be taken against the invigilator and the college authorities. We don’t want any other student from the North-East ending up this way. Hope justice is served to Dana and her family members. My condolences are with her family. May her soul rest in peace!
Name withheld on request
Time for introspection
The tragic story of Dana Sangma and Loitam Richard (may their souls R.I.P.) have again brought to the fore the step motherly treatment meted out by the rest of the country to people from the North East. It also shows the reckless attitude of the authorities in responding to the needs of the students and people from the North East in other states of the country. It goes without saying that they are discriminated against and made to feel unwanted and strangers in their own country.
But given the present situation, there should also be introspection by people in certain parts of the North East on how they treat their fellow non-tribal citizens and also why they brand them ‘outsiders’ whose sole intention cited is to grab employment opportunities and the land of the indigenous people. I was born and raised in Shillong but it was made very clear to me from the time of my early school days that I was a ‘Dkhar’ which I came to know later meant plainsman or outsider. I am not sure which version holds true but it was unequivocally made clear to me that I did not belong.
A quarrel or fight at school with a Khasi boy would quickly take the shape of a ‘Khasi versus Dkhar’ for the pettiest of things which anywhere else would have been dismissed as just another insignificant classroom quarrel. On numerous occasions when out on the street, that particular word could be heard being hurled as an abuse. I can also say from personal experience that this word was used to refer to a friend of mine at a prominent city hospital where one of his parents was hospitalised, when in the middle of the night he requested the oxygen cylinder through which the patient was artificially breathing , in the room to be replaced as it had run out. The ward boy took his own time disregarding the urgency of the situation and when at last he came, he did not even care to offer an apology. It was also obvious that he was in an inebriated state. My friend gave him a piece of his mind and told him that he would be informing the hospital authorities about the irresponsible behaviour on his part. The ward boy retorted that he did not feel threatened by a ‘Dkhar’ .This was least expected at a place where my friend had hoped his mother would receive the best of medical treatment. How is it that these incidents go unreported?
Also it is well known that at present it is next to impossible for a non-tribal citizen to get a state government job in Meghalaya although he/she may have been born and raised In Shillong or Tura. Obtaining a trade licence is also extremely difficult. Therefore we are forced to leave behind our old parents and come out to other parts of the country to earn our livelihood.
In recent days, several NGOs have come out against the inclusion of the names of illegal voters in the electoral rolls which is welcome but it must be ensured that genuine non- tribal citizens are not targeted and harassed. One hopes that the authorities resolve this impasse at the earliest and there is no flare up of communal tension. I sincerely pray that we are spared a rerun of the situation of the late eighties and early nineties.
The non tribals are also as much citizens of Meghalaya as the indigenous people and have contributed in many a ways to the development of the state and should not be dismissed as second class citizens.
While appreciating the local NGOs for taking up the issue of enrolment of dubious names in the voter’s lists I feel that pursuing this pertinent agenda to its logical conclusion is more important than burning of vehicles and night blockades. These two anti-social acts will lead nowhere and the result will be a big zero. Our memories are still fresh on MBOSE issue as a case in point. Bandhs, hartals, curfews, burning of vehicles, houses and innocent human lives, maiming of many persons and creation of other untold sufferings has been the outcome of agitations in the past. But what have we achieved except for NGO leaders becoming politicians or business men? If agitational programmes have failed as experienced in the past, why can the NGO’s not think of different ways to achieve their goals without disturbing people’s lives? Why don’t the NGO’s knock at the doors of the Hon’ble Court for appropriate relief or for redressal of issues affecting the common man? The legal expenses can be met by contribution of citizens through the Dorbar Shnong. This will pre-empt extortions from business houses. These days judicial activism has rectified many anomalies of governance and justice is no longer delayed or denied. Times are now a changing.