Editor,

In 1952, I was in class 9 studying in the Welsh Mission Girls High School and I vividly remember enrolling myself as a volunteer in the protest against the nomination of Member to the District Council (MDC) which we called “MDC shu sieh”( planted) in the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council. While celebrating the Golden Year of Meghalaya, it is important for the people to remember the important historical events which ultimately led to the formation of Meghalaya on 21 January 1972.
In 1923, the formation of Khasi National Dorbar was an important moment in our history whereby the idea and dream for self-rule began to take shape. When India became Independent on 15 August 1947 once again the Khasi people were confronted with two options, one, to remain independent and two, to accede to the Dominion of India. The former, was too big a challenge for the smaller Khasi native states. Therefore, we chose to accede to the Indian Union, and an Instrument of Accession was signed separately by the Khasi Syiems. Thus, the Khasi States Constitution Making Dorbar was held in 1949 to debate and decide the political future of the region.
In 1952, the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council was inaugurated under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. The nomination of the non-indigenous member to the District Council, by the Assam Government enraged the Khasi people and eventually led to the protest movement under the leadership of Messrs Hoover Hynniewta, Molen Swer and others. Lest we forget the house of Molen Swer in Mawkhar Main Road, was the place where the think tank of the movement would meet and deliberate the course of action.
On the morning of 27 June 1952, a large public gathering was convened in the Hall of the Khasi National Dorbar at Mawkhar, to protest against the nomination of a non-indigenous member the District Council which was meant to protect tribal customary laws, culture and tradition. It was on this day, that many students like me, came forward to sign and pledge as volunteers for the protest movement. I remember some of the youths from Riatsamthiah who signed were myself (Filtina Lyndem), Mera Malniang and others. From among the prominent leaders who took active part in the protest were Lina Adel Laloo and Enit from Mission Compound, Moreen Lyngdoh, Plain R Mawthoh, L. Gilbert Shullai, Stephen Lyngdoh, Markan Lyndem, Dr Victor Diengdoh, Hamlet Bareh, Wattis War and many more.
The protest began from the Hall of the Khasi National Dorbar and proceeded towards Motphran where it was met with a heavy hand from the District Administration, and Mr Perry who was the Deputy Commissioner gave an order to clamp down the protest. When the protesters resisted, the District Administration resorted to lathi charge and tear gas, in which many protesters were injured. I remember that the entire stretch of Mawkhar Main Road leading up to the Office of the Dorbar Syiem of Hima Mylliem, was engulfed in fumes but at the same time families along the Mawkhar Main Road came rushing with buckets full of water to help the protesters to wash the fumes from their eyes. My friend Mera and I were helped by the family of Kong Lin Jyrwa (Oasis Restaurant). The lathi charge was followed by tear gassing. The police arrested Hoover Hynniewta, however immediately after the arrest, Plain Mawthoh and Stephen Lyngdoh took over the leadership and led the protesters to the Police Station to demand for the release of Hynniewta.
On June 27, 1952 the protest movement had a far-reaching impact on the political movements which eventually led to the demand for a separate State. Immediately, on December 29, 1953 the Government of India passed a Resolution to constitute the States Re organization Committee. Therefore, no one can deny the fact, that the Hill State Movement started gaining moment since then.
In 1954 the States Re Organization Committee visited the Khasi and Jaintia Hills to examine the political unrest. Thus, the Khasi National Dorbar was among the first to submit the Memorandum to the States Reorganization Committee on April 1, 1954 to demand for a separate State.
From 1954 onwards, many agitations, protests and movements for a separate state followed. Ultimately, in 1971 an Act known as the North Eastern Areas (Reorganization Act) 1971 was passed by Parliament, and with effect from 21 January 1972, Meghalaya became a full-fledged State with Shillong as the Capital.

Yours etc.,

Filtina Lyndem, (senior citizen)

Shillong -14

GG Swell: The unsung hero

Editor,

Tomorrow we will celebrate 50 years of being put together in one state with a people who we don’t have any thing in common. For better or for worse, we’re in the same boat now. Lets go back to the years before India attained Independence. The Khasis and Jaintias were at sixes and sevens. No one knew for sure where we would end up when India finally breaks free from the shackles of British rule. Hands down the Khasis and Jaintias were the most educated people in North East India in the years priort to India;s indpenence. When the Khasi Naitonal Dorbar was convened some of the best minds from the community sat down together to discuss the fate of our people. There was GG Swell and the now not so great JJM Nichols Roy. GG Swell and and others overwhelmingly favoured a unified administration for the Khasis outside Assam even if we decided to accede to India.
JJM Nichols Roy on the other hand was of the opinion that it would be better for us to become part of Assam. No one knows what swayed his decision. He had friends in high places, I mean in the Assam Assembly. A vote was taken in the KND to decide the matter and the motion initiated by G G Swell and modified upon by the Syiem of Jirang, Paiem Sirendro supporting a unified administration for the Khasis outside Assam prevailed. J J M Nichols Roy didn’t back down; he vowed that it was his way or the highway. So it was solely his decision that led to the Khasi states being part of Assam. When the young educated people eventually knew the fate of our people, there was a huge disappointment. When the office of the District Council was inaugurated in Shillong, there were violent agitations. The frustration of being part of Assam among the educated eventually led to the fight for a separate state. When we finally got our own State in 1972, the Garos were clubbed together with us. So here we are celebrating 50 years of togetherness, thanks to JJM Nichols Roy and his unwavering desire for us to be part of Assam in the first place. No one knows for sure till now what swayed his decision in favour of us being part of Assam rather than us being the masters of our own destiny from the very start.
It was stalwarts like GG Swell, BB Lyngdoh, PR Kyndiah, Hoover Hynniewta and others who carried on the fight that finally resulted in the carving of the state of Meghalaya.

Yours etc.,

Gary Marbaniang,

Via email

Get real time updates directly on your device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.