Friday, June 14, 2024

19 NGOs to hold sit-in demo for Lokayukta Act


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By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Expressing their disappointment on the lack of commitment on the part of the Government to bring about a stronger Lokayukta Act in the State, the 19 NGOs would be holding a sit-in protest at the parking lot near Additional Secretariat during the three days Winter Assembly session starting from Tuesday.

The 19- NGO who are spearheading this movement for a stronger Lokayukta are MRTIM, KSU, FKJGP, GSU, HNYF, AJYWO, HANM, RBYF, JSU, Lympung Ki Seng Kynthei, Council of Catholic Women, Youth 4 Change, YWCA, Ka Synjuk Kynthei, CSWO, Maitshaphrang and Achik Youth Welfare Organisation.

The NGOs have decided to hold this protest after realising that the Government is not at all serious in bringing about a stronger Lokayukta which would hold everyone accountable including the Chief Minister.

Moreover, the NGOs are more disappointed seeing both Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma and Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope turning back from their earlier commitment which they had made to them.

Meghalaya Right to Information Movement (MRTIM) chairman Michael Syiem said that the Chief Minister was seen to be very keen in having a stronger Lokayukta when the delegations of the NGOs had met him.

“He (Dr Sangma) even assured that they would not be having a problem in tabling a bill in this connection since it is in sync with the thought process of the Government. The Chief Minister had even invited the NGOs to further discuss the issue on December 4,” Syiem said, while adding that since the day they had met the Chief Minister but neither the Bill for a stronger Lokayukta is being introduced in the Winter Assembly Session nor has Dr Sangma met the NGOs again.

“It is a matter of great shock to see the Chief Minister eating his own words which he had express before the NGOs,” the MRTIM chairman said.

According to Syiem, even Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope has shied away from his commitment made to the delegations of NGOs who had met him at his residence.

“The Assembly Speaker was very positive that he is going to allow any kind of bill for a stronger Lokayukta being tabled in this Winter Assembly session. But we were shocked to learn that he has rejected the move by some of the legislators to table a motion on this issue,” the MRTIM chairman said.

The Assembly Speaker had rejected the move by UDP working president Paul Lyngdoh and veteran HSPDP legislator Hoping Stone Lyngdoh to table a bill in this Winter Session.

Moreover, Syiem said that the NGOs have in fact given the Government an opportunity to stake the claim of introducing the bill for having a stronger Lokayukta on its own.

“But now the Government would have to bow down to the public pressure to bring a stronger Lokayukta,” MRTIM chairman said.

Meanwhile, KSU president Daniel Khyriem said that the State is in need for stronger Lokayukta considering the number of scams which are being exposed in the past few months including the CBI Report on the irregularities on the appointment of assistant teachers and also the latest scam in the Social Welfare Department .

“The indifference attitude towards this very important issue does give an impression that the Government is not all committed to curb the menace of corruption in the State. It looks like the Chief Minister is not in favour for a stronger Lokayukta since he also would be held accountable,” Khyriem said.

Moreover, FKJGP president Joe Marwein said that the three-day session is too short since there are many important issues which are required to be discussed.

“I personally feel that the session should at least be held for a week,” Marwein said.

Meanwhile, the NGOs have called upon the legislators across party lines to demand the Government for a stronger Lokayukta during the three-day session.

“It would be interesting to see how many legislators would really raise this issue which for the overall interest of the State,” the NGOs said.

Further, the NGOs have also called upon the general public to take part in the three day sit in protest to support this movement for a stronger Act in curbing the menace of corruption.

KHNAM demands stronger Lokayukta Act

The Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) on Monday demanded full autonomy for the institution of the Lokayukta in terms of investigation, prosecution, finance and administration even as it demanded that the Lokayukta should not become an appendage of the State Secretariat.

Maintaining that the constitution of a strong Lokayukta Act in Meghalaya is both a need and a remedy to the cancer of corruption, KHNAM general secretary Adelbert Nongrum, who is also the MDC of Jaiaw, said the Lokayukta in its present form would fail to serve the purpose of its establishment if the Chief Minister is left out of its purview.

“The lack of Suo Moto power of investigation and the exemption of ministers, MLAs and top-notch bureaucrats from the radars of the Lokayukta has made the establishment of the Lokayukta in Meghalaya the laughing stock of the entire country,” Nongrum said.

“The political elites who think they can manipulate the system for their petty political interests can be brought to justice and the faith of the masses can once again be restored in the political system once we have a strong Lokayukta Act,” he said.

“The formation of a Lokayukta is intended to root out corruption prevalent in the higher echelons of power. Orissa and several other states have gone way ahead of Meghalaya in establishing a Lokayukta institution,” informed Nongrum.

“The present Lokayukta Act in Meghalaya can be compared to an old lion with no teeth,” he added.

KHNAM exhorted all the MLAs to press for the passage of a strong Lokayukta Act in the State during this coming session so that the Rule of Law can reign supreme and attempts by certain section of the polity to take Meghalaya back to the Old Stone Age can be negated.

Meanwhile, KHNAM also questioned the short winter session of the State Assembly, wondering how vital issues of progress and development can be discussed in three days only.

“The assurance by the Chief Minister to take up the issue of Lokayukta in the Assembly session is nothing but a political gimmick done only to brainwash the civil society members and the people at large,” Nongrum added.


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