By Jacub Aluckal
It is now three months since agitations started for introducing ILP in Meghalaya. Many human lives, God’s greatest gift to humankind, have been lost; precious property which are meant to enhance human lives, have gone up in flames, and peace and harmony which only God can give, have suffered a setback. Debates are galore in the media. There seems to be no end in sight. Who is really inspiring or instigating such incidents?
The very reason for creating many tribal hill states was the fear of domination and being outnumbered by “outsiders”. Tribal identities and land are to be protected. Why after so many decades are we still fighting for the same cause? There are several reasons. The Northeast has about 3% of the population of India and above 7% of the land which is fertile and productive, thus creating incentives for human migration. Besides states and countries, bordering the Northeast, are thickly populated. Human migration was there from the beginning of times and will continue till the end of times. They are to be regulated in a civilized and humane way.
When our Founding Fathers envisaged reservations, special status, privileges etc., they did not intend them to be permanent crutches but temporary fixes. We were supposed to grow and catch up with the rest and eventually get rid of all the privileges and quotas and become equal citizens. As we look around, the opposite is happening. Those who have been enjoying privileges want more; those who have not, now want them. All want to jump into the wagon of minorities, scheduled castes and tribes, reservations, separate states, leaving very little space for the rest.
After the formation of the State of Meghalaya, it was often discussed whether or not the District Councils had lost their relevance. Now this debate has died down. Why? Privileges call for more privileges. All these structures and super structures are eating up the money which can be used for development. We need fences to protect our crops. But if the fence is eating up of the crop, then we are at a loss.
Sometimes, when we enter some villages we encounter several speed breakers. The common refrain is that civilization has entered that village. Creating more restrictions like ILP will not solve problems. More laws do not indicate progress. The Pharisees created too many laws, and laws did not save them. Laws are necessary, but if they cannot be properly implemented, they will create more hurdles.
Observing Meghalaya in the past fifty years, one could see several waves against “outsiders” taking place one after the other. It looks like we have time only to fight against “outsiders” and have little energy left to build up the state and contribute to nation building.
Christians are familiar with the life of King Solomon. Two ladies were quarrelling. Both were claiming the same child as their own. Finally the case went to Solomon’s court. When every attempt for an amicable settlement failed, the King made a proposal. Why not cut the child into half and take one part each?. The pretending mother agreed to the proposal, while the real mother did not agree and allowed the other to have the child, for the welfare of the child was her concern. If we have real love for our people and neighbors, much of the boundary problems can be solved.
Already people are scared of coming to Shillong because of the blockades and bandhs. With the coming of the four-lane, travel will improve. Definitely, the ILP will create further delay. For many it is an emotional issue, and for others it is an issue of life and dead for the people. Hope we are not carried away by emotions. Wise people will understand that ILP can become OLP (Outer Line Permit). Yesterday’s news says: ” AASU now demands ILP in Assam.” It may create problems for our people to go out and work.
Those who travel outside are often confronted with questions like: why so much violence in the Northeast? Why do we hear of so many killings? Are not the people of the region Christians? We often try to defend the tribals. But it is not always easy. Sunday services go on undisturbed and for that matter other religious festivals. On other days, are we at the service of the enemies of God? Let’s stop the violence. Peace and harmony must prevail so we can build up the state.
(The writer is from Archbishop’s House, Shillong. Email: [email protected])