Church bodies take strong exception to HNLC bandh call
SHILLONG: The 12-hour bandh called by the proscribed militant outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) just ahead of the festive season of Christmas has evoked sharp criticism from the church which termed it as uncalled for and a major impediment to smooth and tranquil celebration of Christmas.
Archbishop Rev. Dominic Jala on Friday said, “This is a period for peace and tranquility and calling for a bandh at such a time is not right” even as he appealled to all concerned to do some introspection and ensure that the true spirit of Christmas is not defeated and that people are able to celebrate it in the most meaningful manner.
According to Archbishop Jala, calling a bandh during the festive season is wrong as it would clash with several religious rites and also hinder the Christmas preparations.
Echoing similar views, Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Assembly administrative secretary, Rev. NS Phawa also spoke out against the bandh at a time when people are in a festive mood for Christmas.
“I feel they should not have called a bandh at this juncture; there is always some other time,” he said, adding, “Everyone is free to express their views and opinions on numerous issues in a democratic manner but the timing this time around is definitely wrong and I do not agree with it at all.”
Bishop of Northeast India of the Church of North India (CNI), Rev. Purely Lyngdoh too came out strongly against the bandh called by the rebels terming it wrong and unacceptable. “We are meeting tomorrow to appeal to all Christians and other communities to carry on with their programmes and plans and to go ahead with their celebration of Christmas,” he said while adding, “Nowadays a bandh call by HNLC is no longer effective and I am sure the people will not support it,” even as he added that while the intent of the bandh does not seem wrong but timing certainly is very wrong.
Rev. PBM Basaiawmoit also termed the bandh as most unusual, unorthodox and unprecedented.
He said that December 23 is the last working day and it will be pay day, adding that the unorganized sector of labour will not be able to get their daily wages.
He also suspected that the move of the HNLC may be a design and motive of some other element to put a speed breaker on the announced general meeting of the People’s Candidate Forum.
This time the citizens too have condemned the bandh call by the HNLC calling is insensitive and disrespectful of Christians.
“Even the pressure groups have decided to suspend their agitation keeping in mind the interest of the people during such a festive season. I don’t see why the HNLC does not understand this. I am totally disgusted with such a move,” an elderly citizen was overheard stating, while purchasing clothes from a shop.
Similarly, shop keepers are on tenterhooks as sales this time round are yet to pick up with the frequent disruptions that have been taking place over the last couple of months.
The Rangbah Shnong, Laitumkhrah, GM Bruce Sawkmie said that the bandh call is ostensibly against the arrest of some individuals under the MPDA and other perceived injustices including the fact that some ‘corrupt politicians’ are allowed to go scot free.
He said there are burning issues like ‘influx’ and serious allegations of corruption and mis-governance, “but how does calling a bandh help in our fight against injustice.”
“How can we fight injustice by imposing and heaping further injustice on the common people and ordinary Christians during their most major festival,” he questioned, adding in his interaction with various sections of the population of Laitumkhrah, he has observed that there is almost unanimous opinion that bandhs and blockades hurt the wage earners, the petty shopkeepers and other ordinary people who make their living through the sweat of their brow on a daily basis.
The families of JS Syiemlieh and BM War also said that the wedding in their family has been arranged to be held on Monday and the sudden call for a bandh has come as a shock and created utter confusion. The family have requested the HNLC to exempt the marriage party and guests from the purview of the bandh and to consider reducing the bandh period to 4 pm.
‘Disregard’ HNLC bandh call: Warjri
SHILLONG: Home Minister Roshan Warjri on Friday said the Government is geared up to deal with the situation and adequate arrangements will be made to ensure that peace and harmony is maintained in view of the 12-hour bandh called by the proscribed HNLC on December 23.
“The decision to hold the bandh so close to a religious festival clearly reflects a complete lack of respect and absolute disregard on the part of the said organization towards the sentiments of the general public and is a clear attempt to vitiate the harmonious atmosphere of fellowship during this festive season,” Warjri said in a statement issued here on Friday.
She said that the Government appeals to all citizens to completely disregard the bandh and to carry on with their daily activities.
“Bandhs are not to be tolerated whether it is a festive season or not for they are complete deterrents and stumbling blocks for the overall progress of the state and the day to day functioning of each and every individual in the State,” the Home Minister said.
Meanwhile, Assembly Deputy Speaker Sanbor Shullai has appealed to the HNLC to call off the proposed bandh.
“It is unfortunate to call a bandh at this juncture when the people are gearing up for the Christmas and New Year celebrations,” Shullai said.
The HNPF has also urged the HNLC to withdraw the proposed bandh so that the people can enjoy Christmas without any hindrance.