Sad time for a proud land

Editor,

The country celebrates its Independence Day in two weeks but in our state of Meghalaya – we are far from being free. We are close to a hundred days of lockdown with no consideration for the public. Livelihoods and lives are being suppressed, perhaps unfairly, in the name of containment. All this, despite vaccinations being available for all who opt for it. Will the government take no decisive action? Will it have no reply to the persistent queries on social media and newspaper editorials advocating for removing restrictions? Am I mistaken in assuming that the government within the Indian sovereign state is completely answerable to the people? All this apathy seems to stem from the dissonance that the current legislative and bureaucratic class have from the lives of common citizens. They receive full salaries to put food on the table for their families regardless of lockdowns. If they had a sense of personal honour, they would perhaps forgo a percentage of their earnings towards covid relief during each day of lockdown, but that is a pipe dream.

The powers that be delude themselves with self-grandeur and disrupt the people immensely. If not the courts, perhaps someday their own conscience will judge them. Today, people have reached the point of threatening public protests (To be fair, it is not a good idea to be on the streets protesting) but all the administration does is term any noticeable dissent as ‘illegal’ – without once trying to show some empathy and engaging in dialogue. If the powers that be are reading this – please try feeling hungry or helpless today – for just one day – and maybe you will understand what it means to be a human being, just like the lakhs that you do have the power to serve! It is a sad time – If one were to go back in time to the British era, they would not see a version of Shillong any different from what it is today – filled with hopelessness and repression. Incredible times for our city and state on the brink of the 50th year of statehood.

Adding to the lockdown woes, we now have an additional barrage of VVIP worshipping restrictions imposed on the common citizens. Shops are abruptly forced to close, people are officially ‘requested’ to stay at home when VVIPs come visit, and countless man hours of government servants (i.e. public servants) are put to use to ensure an incredibly smooth trip for one single citizen – at the expense of lakhs of people. Even 30-50 speed breakers on the Shillong-Sohra route have been completely removed! Most of us would understand security measures undertaken – but a semi-lockdown for an entire weekend is nothing short of VVIP worship, and not necessarily for security.

We are a people with a rich culture, a culture of social justice – with a strong sense of community and support. This used to be a land where the people valued democracy and equality even before the liberalised western world. Even our ‘chieftains’ were elected and they dutifully ‘served’ their people. Yet now, it is a matter of shame to see our own government submit itself on behalf of the people – to become meek, uncomplaining slaves all over again. The government is incapable of even raising issues like the ILP despite being passed by the people’s assembly lawfully – because of the potential political underpinnings of such a move within state-centre power dynamics. What is the point of MLAs and Ministers if we have to count on pressure groups to communicate on behalf of the people? Our ancestors would recoil in their graves with absolute disgust if they were to see the weak leadership that now governs this land. Money, power, status and metaphorical fat bellies, instead of justice, humility, honour and service. But what else can one expect when the political and bureaucratic system is filled to the brim with people who want to BECOME “Very Important People”, and not a single one wanting – with all the strength they may have in them – to DO “Very Important Things” instead.

Yours etc.,

Joe Lyngdoh,

Via email

BJP’s true colours emerge

Editor,

The leadership tussle over the post of president in the BJP Meghalaya is gaining ground each day. While AL Hek is eyeing the coveted position, his bête noire, and current president, Ernest Mawrie is trying hard to save his kursi. But in this political slugfest, precisely bordering upon individualistic pursuit more than societal good, BJP Meghalaya is missing core public-related issues which otherwise need prompt action from this political party. I can state several here but the one, which I feel needs special mention is about a so-called member of BJP Meghalaya, a former media convener of the party, who is up in arms to tarnish the name, image, and sanctity of this political party and its leaders. I am no supporter of the BJP but what I feel is that as a people-centric party, BJP should also try and see the issues that are afflicting the commoners instead of being pre-occupied with “Kaun banega BJP President?”

This person in question has collected several thousand rupees from nearly ten petitioners in the name of BJP and several of its national and regional leaders for processing and settlement of their applications / claims in the respective Union Government Departments. This is with respect to the petitioners’ meeting with the former Minister of State for Home, Mr Kiren Rijiju in 2015 at Shillong and petitioning him with their grievances and resubmission of their petitions again in 2019 through the former National Secretary, ST Morcha, BJP Central – who had in March 2019 resigned from the saffron party in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, and facilitated by this so-called BJP Meghalaya member – who seems to have utilized his criminal tendencies and earned some fast buck in the process. Few such affected petitioners told me that they were told that this member was asked by the former national secretary to collect the money from the petitioners. Well, if that is so then can the former national secretary please clarify why he has asked this BJP Meghalaya member to do so? One can only wonder in awe how a mere party-man can use the name and fame of his leaders to pursue his criminal desires with impunity. Is BJP Meghalaya unaware of the malafide ways of its rank and file? Well, ideally I would like to see an end to the Modi regime post-2024 general elections because of the severe hardships that he has inflicted upon the people of this country, by “fair” or “unfair” means. The “deeds” here in BJP Meghalaya mirrors the bigger picture inside this party – which needs to be dethroned and it is heading there.

Yours etc.

BC Paul

Shillong –4

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