Communal violence has tormented Meghalaya for the last three decades. From the late 70’s its form has taken very menacing proportions and the State bleeds from time to time with the death of innocents. At the same time those engineering the violent incidents get political ascendancy. Violence does not begin with weapons or strong arms. It begins in the mind, with the idea of ‘hate’ against another community. This hate is usually propounded by distorting history and by constructing a hoary past which never existed. Communal forces translate this hate by using the local idiom to spread violence in targeted areas. The nature of violence is not static; it changes its form with time. In Meghalaya violence has always been an urban phenomenon because the “other” is seen as invading that space. What is forgotten is that the more dangerous forms of cross-border influx is happening in the rural out-backs of the coal mining areas. But the coal barons are known to pay off all whistle blowers and pretenders. Invariably those instigating the violence are the ones’ who benefit from it politically and electorally. The strategy adopted has always been “intimidation.” This strategy of frightening the minorities is systematically propagated. Ironically those spreading hate also claim to be saving ‘their community’ ‘their culture’ ‘their economy,’ etc. They don the mantle of saviours of society. That’s how they emerge politically taller after every bout of bloodshed and violence.
In societies that are fed by irrational fears of the ‘outsider’ it is easy to whip up communal violence, suspicion and distrust. Till date there is no societal counterpoint to the perceived ‘dominant’ view that the Inner Line Permit is the instrument to save society from its nemesis. Those who promote such views know very well the importance of co-existence and shared histories but like all opportunistic fascists they sweep these realities aside because for them reason is anathema for the execution of their grand design. How long will it take before such pretenders to the throne are exposed?