Dkhar’ in nature, why then the hatred?
By Albert Thyrniang
When Ardent Basaiawmoit sought time from HYC, Sohiong circle to prove its allegation of his involvement as CEM of KHADC to incorporate non-Khasi (‘Tang Jait’) into the Khasi society he named a couple of Khasi surnames which were results of the ‘tang jait’ stating that the practice is not a new phenomenon. I compile a list of two of the Khasi surnames in alphabetical order with the initial ‘Khar’ namely, Dkhar Kharbhih, Kharbani, Kharbithai, Khardewsaw, Khardoh, Kharheli, Kharjahrin, Kharkamni, Kharkongor, Kharliiu,Kharlyngdoh,Kharmawlong, Kharmawphlang, Kharnarbi Kharphuli, Kharsati, Kharshandi, Kharshiing, Kharsyntiew. This is not to embarrass anyone nor to humiliate anyone. This is to state the truth and to reflect on it. It is a reality that many of us have ‘dkhar’ roots. If you consider ‘dkhar’ roots from the father’s side like this individual then the number only increases.
Then why the hatred for ‘dkhars’ (non-Khasi)? The unprovoked and totally uncalled for assault on eight workers at the newly established St Xavier’s College in Umoid near Mawkyrwat, South West Khasi Hills at the dead of the night on February 24, resulting in the murder of one of them and causing injuries to the others symbolises this extreme hate. It is an unnatural phobia. It is intolerance in spite of the fact that we ourselves share a ‘common’ heritage with the victims. The skilled labourers were taken to construct a specialised portion of a building after obtaining the work permit from KHADC. The authorities also met the Chief Minister, the Home Minister and the leaders of pressure groups in the process. In spite of this elaborate arrangement the criminals executed the barbaric and uncivilised attack.
Some of those who have been arrested bear the surname ‘dkhar’. They have been remanded to police custody. Do they not realise they too descended from a ‘dkhar’? Can they deny their ancestry? Having been beneficiaries of the ‘Tang Jait’ why are they so anti ‘dkhar’? What harm will those eight out-state-labourers do? They did not sneak into our territory. They did not infiltrate into the state. They did not even come on their own. They were requested to perform the task that would contribute to the cause of education in the area that so urgently requires attention. After completion of the work they are going to return home. They are not going to settle in Umoid or in South West Khasi Hills or in the state. Then why harm them? Why attack them?
At least two of the five suspects arrested are reported to be members of the KSU and another a former member. Investigation will (will it?) reveal if the Union or a unit is involved in the seemingly pre-planned and orchestrated violent act. However, the Union needs to reflect whether granting of membership is too casual. Are many of its members school drop-outs? Or are there far too many who have not undergone normal intellectual pursuits? Have members not excelled in intellectual discipline? No one is against them. They have a place in the society. But then how can they represent the student community? How can they appreciate intellectual excellence? How do they value education? How do they understand the nuance of education? When you have ‘unqualified’ members the end result is violence because they are unable to reason out. They only follow the crowd without thinking critically. They often become part of a mob with frenzied sentiments. How can members of a body that is supposed to promote education perpetrate such a crime on the novel institution? If the allegation is true then what example does the student union give to the student community? Should they teach the young generation to take the law into their own hands? Are those involved capable of thinking? Where is logic and reason?
Zealous and vocal pressure groups who claim to exist and work for the identity and purity of the Khasi tribe abound in the state. One sees some leaders with the ‘khar’ surnames. Is it a case of defence mechanism? A classmate of ours in the 90s had a very hostile attitude toward all ‘dkhars’ but it was found that his mother was a non-Khasi. This writer right here speaking to your through this pen was one of the kids who used to volunteer to catch non-local construction labourers in the village in the late 80s who dared to befriend Khasi girls. Patriotism ‘ended’ when one day while filling up a form I realised that my dad was also a ‘khar’. I came to my senses. It brought a sense of reality deep down. It brought a different perspective to life.
Being a descendent of a ‘khar’ or a ‘dkhar’ does not mean we welcome every ‘outsider’ into our home or our land. It does not mean we allow them to settle in our backyard. It does not mean we let them buy land and property in the state. It does not mean we do away with the Sixth Schedule. It does not mean we don’t preserve our culture, tradition and culture. It just means we are all human beings, after all. It means a respect for fellow human beings. It means a reverence for the sanctity of human life. I don’t think the perpetrators of the Umoid incident have this balanced perspective.
We boast of a community that is founded on two philosophies, ‘Tip briew tip Blei’ (literary, to know man and God) and ‘Ka hok ka sot’ (honesty).The Umoid incident and many other cases of violence in the past have shattered this belief. It has questioned this foundation. While beating up people in their sleep do the criminals remember God and know that innocent souls are human beings too? The horrific act is not any act of honesty. It is an attack against people who earn their livelihoods through honest means. Armed with knives and sticks and hiding themselves behind masks is not an act of bravery. It is a cowardly act. By no means are they are ‘Khlur Ka Ri’.
We also take pride that the ‘Tip briew tip Blei’ and ‘Ka hok ka sot’ has found a perfect destination in Christianity. The ‘Niam Tip briew Tip Blei’ (Indigenous Khasi faith) is believed to have discovered its fulfilment in Christianity. The two are supposed to be a perfect blend. The whole of South West Khasi Hills is Christian. The Umoid and Diwah area too is Christian. None probably is a non-Christian. We eulogise ourselves as Christians. We are not apologetic about it. We have no qualms in calling ourselves a ‘Christian’ state. Are we a ‘Christian’ state only in terms of numbers (80%)? Or are we Christians in terms of values and virtues? Is there a mismatch between the ‘Tip briew tip Blei’ and ‘Ka hok ka sot’ with Christianity? Where is the mismatch? Umoid is not an isolated incident that is anti-Christian and anti-human?
The entire South West Khasi Hills is backward. Successive governments have also neglected the area. This writer has highlighted the pathetic road conditions in the area several times in this very page. Tender has been called for the Nongstoin-Wahkaji road but no one has any clue as to its take- off date. The district may not even get the demoted life-line road. The youths should focus on the development of the district rather than indulge in destructive activities. The district has good tourist attractions like the Jakrem Hot Spring, the untapped Phod Umbah view, the Wah Rilang view near Mawkyrwat, the Ranikor beauty etc. The shameful Umoid incident is no advertisement for tourism for the district and the whole state in this age of social media.
The entire South West Khasi Hills has no college worth its name. St. Xavier’s College is supposed to fill that big void and give a fillip to education in the district. Umoid will delay the completion of the college buildings. It has already affected educational activities as classes are indefinitely suspended. The villainous act has put a spanner in the works of the institution that is thought to keep on rolling in the area that looks to be off the government’s map.
Condemnations right from the Chief Minister to the Home Minister to the Church to the local headmen to the general public have found echoes in the state and outside the state. It appears the police are on the job. The suspects must be apprehended, charged in the court of law and convicted.
There is a broad consensus among scientists that all the different species of human were descended from ape-like creatures that walked upright in Africa more than six million years ago, strongly suggesting that there is only one race – the human race. As humans moved to different continents and locations physical conditions changed their colours and features. No doubt we appreciate differences and strive to preserve them. In India and Meghalaya we have constitutional provision to do so. Violence is out of the way, completely.