A Cry In The Wilderness
Apropos to the letter, ‘Stop the unprovoked assault on non-tribals’ by D. Bhattacharjee (ST Jan 22, 2022),it is painful that after the era that we are too readily and determinedly trying to forget, has come back to haunt us once again. Many non-tribals had to sell off the homes they had peacefully lived in for decades and flee to Calcutta. And for what? For a small spark that by good human reasons could have been extinguished! More saddening this time is that the assault took place in front of the police station. Republic day is just a few days away and the preamble to the Constitution that assures us Justice – social (to live in harmony),economic (to help one another) and political (this is for politicians) rings loud and clear.
In the pre-independence era our people, the Khasis and Jaintias had regular haats (markets) with Bengalis every 8th day along the Darrang to Borghat border. And not to forget our strong academic and medical bonds in the era of LMP and LMF certified doctors (from Medical colleges in Calcutta), treating people in villages as well as Shillong. What we are today is the result of the brotherly relations among all sections of society then.
If politicians could shun the caste and religion divide during elections and concentrate on building the pillars of a strong democracy to uplift the poor and needy and to value education left orphaned for too long; and if our elders take pains to bring peace there is no reason why those golden days of friendship and feeling of safety in any locality with greetings and smiles, cannot be restored. And lest we forget, the assaulted don’t want a tit for tat resolution. Rather they portray a totally different picture of wanting to calm things down. Let us hope and pray, for it is said, ‘More things are wrought by prayers than the world ever dreams of’
Of Communal Violence
Communalism was and continues to be one of the major challenges to democracy in our country. Peace Committees can be set up in which individuals belonging to different religious communities can work together to spread goodwill and fellow-feelings and remove feelings of fear and hatred in the riot-affected areas. This will be effective not only in diffusing communal tensions but also in preventing riots from breaking out. There is a need to initiate the process of de-communalising the people at all levels via education. Value-based education can instill compassion and empathy which can minimise the possibilities of the impact that any kind of communal polarisation can have on people. Pluralism and unity witnessed from the struggle for India’s independence can be emphasised upon. Leaders with communal ideas and ideologies pressurise the government to act in a manner which is always against the principle of secularism. It is here that intellectuals and voluntary organisations can be most effective.
There is a need to strengthen cyber-security architecture. Social media platforms should be asked to regulate hateful content and generate awareness about rumours and any kind of content that can incite communal tension. While we hope that the law enforcing agencies would find out the actual culprits and administer the severest of punishments, we would also like to appeal that we as a society should pause to think why such incidents keep on occurring from time to time. These are not issues that can be explained away by applying a religious veneer to the incidents. Nor can the responsibility be laid entirely at the feet of our education system. The causal factors should not be glossed over. We need to understand the dynamics and inner workings of communal politics, and do something about it. We need to organise inter-communal and inter-faith dialogues to press home the message of communal harmony. Fixing this situation will need a whole-of-society approach, as experts aver, and which we endorse, rather than just a law-and-order approach.
Maintaining communal harmony and respecting pluralism in a country as diverse as India can be a challenge. However, it is important to address the collective conscience of people of the country to uphold the constitutional values like fraternity and secularism. While on the one hand, this can take into consideration the insecurities of the people, on the other hand, it can significantly contribute to the nation-building process. A strong nation, which is built by the contribution of communities working together for its prosperity can further contribute to the maintenance of global peace and harmony.
Mr. Alert Archie Rymbai
History of Shillong etc.
Apropos to Gary Marbaniang’s letter on “Case of illogical conclusion” (ST Jan 20, 2022), a reply to his two remarks on this writer’s letter published earlier (Jan 19, 2022) are necessary. To his first remark that “a follow up letter today which totally erased the Khynriam from the history of Shillong” may be answered that the letter was concerned only with the history of the name of Shillong Peak which is ancient and not with the modern history of Shillong.
His second remark is, “I just feel that the letter written by Prof. Passah from Jowai (ST 19, Jan. 2022) borders on ethnocentrism. Let us not sow seeds of division especially if those seeds are sown on grounds of illogicality.” This writer is sorry that he finds it difficult to debate on someone’s feelings. It is doubtful that Marbaniang is a student of history and a trained researcher on the subject. Nevertheless, he could join the discipline now and this writer wishes that he writes a parallel paper on the issue and presents the same in a proper forum. That would help in collaborating and sharing data and information for writing the ancient and medieval history of our race/tribe which has not been attempted by anyone so far.
Prof P.M. Passah,
The recent unprovoked attacks and assault on innocent by-standers and shopkeepers in the heart of Shillong is highly condemnable. Such attacks continue to instil a sense of fear and insecurity amongst citizens. However, to insinuate that an entire community is responsible for such acts without proper evidence is unwarranted. It is deeply disturbing that none of the pressure groups have tried to come up with a platform to reach out and find solutions to such incidents. What kind of learnings and social ethics will such acts bring for the future generation? No wonder many parents do not want their children to grow and work in a society that is gradually turning into a ghetto. Hope the law catches up fast with such elements who tarnish the image of the state.
Dominic Stadlin Wankhar,