Doubts raised over MTDF’s ‘no’ to Autumn Festival

SHILLONG: Questions are been raised over the ‘real reason’ behind the Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum’s (MTDF) decision of not organising the annual Autumn Festival this year.

The MTDF had, earlier, decided not to hold the annual event this year in protest against the spate of pro-ILP agitation and the series of violent incidents that had gripped the city.

Several people have observed that the possibility of the ILP agitations affecting the Autumn Festival is unlikely which is evident from the success of the recently-concluded Monolith Festival organised by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) at Mawphlang. Prior to this, the Durga Puja festival was also observed successfully throughout the State without any disturbance from the pro-ILP groups who had even suspended their agitation during the festivities.

Sohra legislator and Chairman of the Khasi Heritage Conservation Forum (KHCF), Titosstarwell Chyne said that the KHADC is looking forward to organising the festival annually and is even planning to extend the event to three or four days.

“The response was unexpected and we never imagined that the Festival would receive such response from the people,” Chyne said, adding that no disturbance was reported during the two-day Festival.

Asked about his observation on not holding the Autumn Festival, Chyne refused to comment, stating that the reason for not holding the Autumn Festival would be best known to the organizers themselves.

However, MTDF member, Larsing M Sawyan, had a different take on the issue.

“The Autumn Festival is not only about holding the event for two days but it is more about doing it so in a sustained, vibrant and peaceful environment,” Sawyan said.

“Even if the agitators call off their agitations for two days in view of the Festival, it will hold no significance as after the festival we still have to go back to the usual routine of ILP-related agitations,” Sawyan said, adding that a two-day event does not make Tourism successful.

Sawyan also stated that they have impressed upon the NGOs through many public gatherings the need to avoid adopting any method which could affect the economy of the State, livelihood of the people and the development of Tourism in the rural areas and the State as a whole.

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