Citizens call for peace, decry outside interference
SHILLONG: The revival of the Ichamati issue appears to be leading to a flashpoint where trading of charges is now rife between local pressure groups and those outside the state. Prominent citizens and NGOs in Meghalaya have called for early resolution of these disputes even as questions are being raised about whether the present issue is being whipped up to suit the political agenda of some vested interests.
Former Home Minister, RG Lyngdoh while sharing his views on the matter said, “First and foremost, the timing of this sudden outburst, after months of silence, is, to me, very suspect. Why not earlier? Or why not a little later? Why should this outburst coincide with the Durga Puja celebrations? Who is behind it and what are they trying to achieve?”
Stating that two wrongs do not make a right, Lyngdoh said that if sweeping statements and attempted stereotyping has been done by the KSU, the same thing is being done by the antagonists on the other side as well.
“Both parties should take a step back and diffuse the situation,” Lyngdoh said while adding that a confrontation will not help if some people’s fundamental rights have been trampled upon.
“Let us not live in the mistakes of the past. Let us learn from them and try to make the future better for all the citizens of our state,” he said.
KSU president, Lambok Marngar too said that attempts are being made by vested groups from outside the state to make this a religious issue between Hindus and Christians.
“These people who are organising protests in Silchar and Kolkata are misleading the rest of India and the Union Government, quite forgetting that it was the non-tribals of Ichamati who first attacked us,” he said.
Stating that the KSU was the victim in the Ichamati case as the non-tribals attacked the pressure group members and gave the entire issue a communal colour, he added that it is left to the wisdom of the government as it is holding talks with different NGOs on the matter.
“KSU is only fighting for a mechanism to protect the indigenous community of the state which is not a crime,” the KSU chief said.
UDP leader and prominent politician in the state, Jemino Mawthoh, too questioned as to why this issue has cropped up several months after the pandemic and at the approach of the festive season even as he doubted that the issue was brought in to vitiate the atmosphere.
“We are living in peaceful co-existence with other communities for many decades and this should be maintained,” he said while adding that those who are trying to inject communal disharmony should be dealt with accordingly and this matter should be nipped in the bud.
Chairman of the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisation (CoMSO), Robertjune Kharjahrin too said that the issue is being blown out of proportion by some vested interests including few groups and people from outside.
Stating that elections in West Bengal and Assam are approaching in which the Bengali population play an important role, he too suspects that there is a political agenda behind all this issue and due to the agenda of some people from outside, the normal functioning of the state should not be affected.
Making it clear that there is no religious persecution in Meghalaya till date, he added that if tribals or non-tribals feel that the government is not doing anything for them, they can always hold discussions with the government and even approach the judiciary.
The CoMSO leader also said that the former Meghalaya Governor, Tathagata Roy should be arrested immediately for trying to instigate communal dissension that could lead to law and order problems in the state.
General Secretary of the Central Puja Committee, JL Das said that everyone should maintain peace and brotherhood in the state and there should be no room for communal disharmony.
Meanwhile CSWO president, Agnes Kharshiing too said that peace has to prevail in the state and no one should exploit the situation even as she urged the government to ensure the safety and security of all citizens.
Retired IAS officer and activist, Toki Blah too said that everyone wants peace and tranquility in the state but politics is playing its own bloody game over this issue. This matter should be addressed in the right spirit, he said.