The barbaric act at Umoid a disgrace


By Aiborlang Nongsiej

As an educator and a writer from the region of South West Khasi Hills District I condemn the barbaric act committed on the workers at St Xavier’s College, Umoid on the Feb 24, night. The inhuman act of the miscreants has shocked the entire district and the incident has become the headlines of most of the local newspapers and news channels. I personally convey my  heartfelt condolences to the family members of the one who lost his life in this incident. I also empathize with the entire Jesuit society particularly those working in Northeast India for the brutal attack committed in their newly constructed institution. Let us not forget that the western part of Khasi Hills is usually against the non-locals. In fact, there are several incidents in the past where non-locals were being attacked in this part of the region of Khasi Hills. Nevertheless, the people of my district have not learned till date the consequences of what they had done in the past.

Personally I am against the old idea of attacking non-locals without ascertaining why they have come to the district. The recent incident at St. Xavier’s College Umoid is condemnable and unacceptable to the people of the district. In fact, immediately after the incident many organizations held a meeting to condemn and to find out the culprits involved in this incident. It is unfortunate that such an event happened in a newly set up institution that can bring lots of development and valued education to the young people of the area. Let us not forget that the Jesuits are well known for their contributions to the field of education around the globe. This Catholic Society of Jesus known as Jesuits is working in many countries in the world and the best students are usually the product of their institutions. Perhaps, the Jesuits society found the need for standard and valued education in the western part of Khasi Hills which led them to purchase land and start the college for the betterment of the young people of my region. Unfortunately, there are people in my region who do not see the potential of the college and which perhaps made them attack on the newly arrived workers.

As an educator from the region I write this article with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes to lose such a prestigious institution in the region. I condemn the barbaric acts committed on the innocent workers who had just arrived for constructing the new building of the institute. In my conversation with few elders of the district, they said that all the necessary permissions were granted for the workers who had come for constructing the building. So why did some people go to disturb and attack the innocent workers? What were the reasons they went to attack the workers if all the necessary permissions were granted? Personally I have seen vast difference between the locals and the non-locals in constructing big buildings. We should accept that there are very few local skilled workers for big construction works and such buildings are usually constructed by non-locals. Having said so I don’t condemn the local workers for not being able to construct big buildings, but in general the non-locals are faster and hardworking people with minimum wages.

However, the point of my writing is not to compare between local and non-local construction workers but to point out that such cruel attacks on the innocent workers is absolutely wrong and should not happen again in future. Nevertheless, the plan of the priests who run the institution is not to give all the construction work to the non-locals, but there are certain works which are best executed by non-locals who are experts in their field while the rest of the work can be done by the locals. The plan of the Jesuit priests is not only to give employment to the non-locals but also to the locals.  Definitely, we are against non-locals coming to purchase land and permanently settle in our region but not to go to the extent of attacking and harming them physically.

If the people of my region are against the employment of non-locals for construction, then they should speak up and negotiate with the people concerned but not to attack innocent workers physically. It is unfortunate that people should harm the innocent workers who perhaps come to earn their daily wages in order to feed their families.

The people of my region must understood that our sons and daughters are also studying and working in different parts of the country. If such cruel incidents happen in our region, what will happen to our own people who are staying outside the state? Are they also not in fear? Let us not forget that all of us belong to a family and if any member of our family is being attacked, how would we feel? Let us imagine the reaction of the family members of the workers particularly those of the worker who died due to this incident?  What would be their opinion of the entire state particularly the Khasis? Are we not in danger when we are outside the state for various reasons?

It is very unfortunate for the people of South West Khasi Hills to lose such a prestigious institution just because of a few individuals. Let us not forget that the institution is meant for all and the entire Khasi Hills particularly for the young people of the district.  Though, it is a Catholic institution it is meant to serve all people irrespective of religion and denominations. Have you ever seen a Catholic institution that serves only the Catholics? All the Catholic institutions are meant for all and they provide valuable education to all. In fact, many leaders and well placed people in the society are the products of Catholic institutions. Hence if people of my region have this mentality, then it is a self-defeating action. The people of my district must see the potential of the institution to employ several people in the future. The students of my district must qualify themselves in order to enroll themselves as employers in this particular institution. Hence, there are lots of opportunities for the people of the region if such an institution exists in the district. In fact, many young people of my district are worried and unemployed but when such an opportunity comes through an institution they forget to see it. Nevertheless, whoever was involved in such a cruel attack against the innocent workers is an enemy of the people of the District.

It is very shameful to claim ourselves as Christians and Khasi when such events continue to happen in our society. The Christians are taught in the ten commandments of God that we should not kill and the traditional religion (niam Khasi) teaches us to ‘Im Tip briew Tip Blei’ (to know God and man). Hence this crime defies all moral and ethics norms and must be condemned by all, especially by the people of South West Khasi Hills.

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