Empathising with Ampareen

Editor,

The two news reports “Ampareen appears before special court, not on bail” and “Court tells Ampareen not to leave state” (ST Oct 15 and 16 respectively) have created a mixed feeling in me. All these years, since the news broke out first, there were speculations, hopes and expectations that like all other allegations of scams against public figures, she would be able to deal with it politically. Maybe, she tried. To her bad luck, it went beyond the control of the executive. There are tell-tale evidences that mark sheets have been doctored. The evidence provided by the officers concerned virtually sealed the issue. After CBI got involved, it was becoming clearer by the day that she would have no escape route. Now that the trial of the case has begun and she appeared before the Special Court, somehow I have developed a rare sympathy for her. The more I think of the case, the more I realise the inevitability of the outcome. Maybe, she will be able to drag it for some more years. But eventually the law will surely catch up with her. Lawyers say that if convicted, she will spend a few years in jail. Obviously, this will imply that the curtains will fall on her political career. And that’s the tragedy.

I can speak from my personal experience and knowledge that as an MLA she has been providing wonderful service to the people of Laitumkhrah-Malki constituency. As a voter myself (not necessarily her supporter), I have seen for myself that she is up and doing as an MLA. She stands by those who need her presence. She extends generous assistance, sometime exceeding expectations. Therefore, in case the court verdict goes against her and she becomes unavailable for serving the people, it will be a big loss for all. However, nothing in life is permanent and nobody is going to be with us for eternity. Honestly speaking, whatever illegality Ampareen might have committed, it was not for pecuniary gains. For all we know, she did not personally gain anything out of it. She tried to help some candidates who are known to her. Yes, it is a clear case of favouritism and nepotism. But in politics, who doesn’t try to help people on political considerations? Can any politician say with honesty that they never tried to help their own people? Everybody is honest, so long as they are not found out.

To be fair to Ampareen, she  tried to oblige all those MLAs and MDCs who sent her written requests for favouring their chosen ones. Whatever be the case, if she is going to be punished for this momentary lapse, then what about all those who induced her to act in the manner she did? If inducement to suicide is a cognisable offence under the law, why should inducement to crime of this nature be any different? After all, there are written requests from two dozen elected representatives. In my opinion, Ampareen should not be seen as a stand- alone culprit but an unfortunate victim of the corrupt system. Let the system be corrected and reformed. Let us go against the crime and not the perpetrator per se. I shall keep my fingers crossed for her.

Yours etc.,

Jonathan S

Via email

Prices of essential commodities sky-rocket

Editor,

Recently I came across a manuscript which appeared in The Shillong Times (Oct 9, 2020) that the prices of most essential commodities have shot up in Shillong markets. This is alarming and as this is artificial escalation of prices. Even commodities like vegetables etc. which are grown locally are now beyond the reach of many. In fact, believe it or not but Shillong is the costliest place in India. No wonder corruption carries on unabated in the state. It is a sad thing that the Government of Meghalaya is doing nothing to control the sky rocketing of prices essential commodities like meat, chicken, fish, vegetables, oil, etc. The public at large are responsible for the abnormal rise of essential commodities. If this were to happen in other places the public would have gone to the streets to protest but sadly, the public here only complain at home about price rise.

The prices of vegetables which are grown locally have increased by leaps and bounds due to great demands from Assam. The Government should step in and put a stop to vehicles coming from Assam and prevent them from lifting 100 % of the vegetables grown in Meghalaya, even while the local people are paying through their noses. At least 50 % of locally grown vegetables can be exported to Assam whereas 50 % can be consumed locally. For the information of readers, I am giving below the comparative studies of few essential commodities that are sold in Shillong/ Raipur (Chattisgarh)/ and New Delhi. These rates are taken from the previous week and the information collected is from people who are residents of these places.

Items per kg Shillong Raipur New Delhi
Potato Rs. 50 Rs. 20 Rs. 25
Onion Rs. 60 Rs. 25 Rs. 30
Beef Rs. 400 Rs. 280 Rs. 260
Chicken Rs. 350 Rs. 180 Rs. 180
Pork Rs. 350 Rs. 180 Rs. 200
Rohu Fish Rs. 250 Rs. 130 Rs. 170
Apples Rs. 200 Rs. 50 Rs. 60
Pomegranate Rs. 250 Rs. 55 Rs. 75
Banana Rs. 120 Rs. 25 Rs. 50
Tomato Rs. 70 Rs. 8 Rs. 10
Beans Rs. 100 Rs. 15 Rs. 25

These are prices of few essential commodities worth highlighting and again for information of readers, tomatoes in Bihar are being sold at Rs. 2 per kg.

From the above studies, it is evident that each earning family in Meghalaya spends around 65-70% of their income/pay for food only, whereas in other places people spend 25-30% of their income for food. That is why Shillong is called the costliest hill station in India or for that matter in the whole world. It is high time that North East and Meghalaya in particular should have its own price index and not to base the price index on all India basis where Meghalaya tends to lose out. Moreover, the farmers in different countries of the world are the richest people whereas in Meghalaya, the farmers are the poorest as all the profits are taken by the middle men.

Yours etc.,

  1. Dkhar,

Jowai

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