Immediate causes of our Hill State formation

By L. Kharlukhi (Ex-MLA)

Based on my experiences during the course of my active participation in the Hill State Movement, as an Organizer of the Non-Violent Direct Action (NVDA), especially during the periods from the late sixties and thereafter, I feel it obligatory on my part to share those experiences with the upcoming generation of our Khasi, Jaintia and Garo people. As one of the Volunteers of the NVDA, under the banner of All Party Hill Leaders Conference (APHLC), I had the privilege of being the Secretary of the NVDA, Mawlai Circle, right through until the time of my resignation along with the other volunteers/organizers of the NVDA at the time, in protest against the intention of our leaders then to welcome the idea of the Autonomous State within Assam.
The ardent and earnest support of all the Rangbah Shnong (Headmen) of the villages in Mawlai under the influence of (L) Mr. M. Kharkongor, who was then the Rangbah Shnong, Mawlai Iewrynghep and who also was the Chief organizer of the NVDA, Mawlai circle, had generated unprecedented support of almost all the people residing in the Mawlai area. The shadow of (L) Mr. Hopingstone Lyngdoh, who was then the MLA of Nongstoin constituency under which Mawlai area falls; the presence of (L) Mr B. B. Lyngdoh, MLA Nongpoh constituency, who was then residing in Mawlai, (Mawdatbaki) area with his family, had no doubt added fuel to the fire of the Hill State movement and more so after the coming into being of the Assam Official Act recognizing Assamese as an Official language of the State of Assam, in the year 1960.
The repercussions of the Mawlai circle’s method in the Movement had immediately echoed to every corner of Khasi and Jaintia hills, especially when leaders like (L) Prof. G. G. Swell, (L) B. B. Lyngdoh, MLA Nongpoh constituency, (L) H. S. Lyngdoh, MLA Nongstoin, (L) Hoover Hynniewta, MLA Shillong, (L) S. D. D. Nichols Roy, MLA Cherra, (L) Edwin Bareh, MLA Jowai, (L) Prof. R. S. Lyngdoh, and many other prominent personalities of the Hill State Movement at that time, were greatly encouraged to take the Movement forward with the active support they got from the people at that time. It is worth mentioning here that as far as Garo hills is concerned, everything was worked well under the able leadership of (L) Capt. W. A. Sangma, who was then MLA of Garo hills.
The Tura Conference of the APHLC that took place at that time, took a landmark decision to accept the Autonomous State within Assam as declared by the Government of India on January 13, 1968. The leaders of the APHLC then reasoned that the acceptance was justified on considerations that the Autonomous State would be a stepping stone towards a full-fledged Hill State. It goes without saying that the vehement opposition of the rulers of Assam, a stronghold of the Congress Government then and the indecision of the Home Ministry of the Government of India then, had a negative impact upon the Movement for a separate Hill State.
It is worthy to heap praises on our leaders and the people, especially the volunteers of the Hill State movement, who had sacrificed their lives for the meaningful struggle and movement, until the time of the harvest which materialized fully on the January 21, 1972.
Going back to what had already been said, the Hill State Movement witnessed a the pinnacle of our tribal genius as was evidenced in our leaders and our volunteers as well. The convincing movement of our leaders and people had impressed our rulers at the Centre, especially (L) Mrs Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of our country. We should not forget that the support and sympathy we got not only from the leaders but the people as well, from different regions of our country, India, had a lasting impact and led to the immediate realization of our cherished dreams.
The seemingly flare-up of the Hill State Movement especially the emergence of the second line of leaders in the course of the Movement had pressurized our leaders to find an early solution to the problem so as to quench the fire of political fervour before it took a violent turn. Hence, something was better than nothing, as the saying goes. The situation warranted the expulsion of (L) Mr H. S. Lyngdoh, the then Chief Organizer of the NVDA, from the APHLC because he was seen as the one who spearheaded the move against the idea of an Autonomous State. He was blamed for the resignation from the NVDA (APHLC) of the thirteen organizers/volunteers of the NVDA, Mawlai circle, the chief of whom were (L) Mr. M. Kharkongor, Rangbah Shnong Iewrynghep, (L) Mr. B. G. M. Syiem, Rangbah Shnong Phudmawri, (L) Mr. S. Kharkongor, Rangbah Shnong Umjaiur, (L) Mr. P. Kharlukhi, (L) Mr. B. R. Kharlukhi, Mr. S. D. Khongwir, Mr. A. Basaiawmoit, Mr. L. Kharlukhi, (L) Mr. S.D. Basaiawmoit, (L) Mr. I. War, (L) Mr. T. Roy, Mr. M. Wahlang and others. As a consequence, the APHLC then was virtually split into two, namely, those for and against the Autonomous State.
However, hectic political transactions/negotiations took place between the two factions from time to time but uncompromisingly. As a result, the Hill State Volunteer Adhoc Committee (HSVAC) came into existence under the leadership of (L) Mr. H. S. Lyngdoh with a mass following that was exhibited on the April 2, 1970 when the Prime Minister came to Shillong to inaugurate the Autonomous state christened Meghalaya meaning, ‘the Abode of the Clouds’, which was initially proposed and vehemently supported by none other than (L) Prof. G. G. Swell.
On that day, the volunteers and supporters of the HSVAC publicly demonstrated against the Autonomous state in front of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by means of a Black Flag demonstration that lined up right from Umshyrpi bridge up to the entrance of the inauguration meeting at Cricket ground, Laban, where (L) Mr. Syrtok Nongrum, an organizer of the HSVAC with few of his followers presented a Black flag to Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi who received it seriously and smilingly. The slogan, ‘No Hill State, No Rest’, filled the air all along the way of the Prime Minister and her entourage.
The Hill State movement then became a two-pronged struggle between the APHLC on the one hand and the Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) which came into existence as a result of the HSVAC on the other. History had been a blessing in disguise because of the fact that the rapid developments of the Hill State movement had borne fruit at last. The sagacity and dynamism of our Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was seen when she took upon herself the responsibility of solving the Hill State Peoples problem by taking the portfolio of Home Ministry which hitherto was full of hesitation and fear from taking action over our Hill State demand. The tribal genius as was displayed by our leaders and the effective and reasonable support we had from the people, especially the youths had raised us up to the level of being responsible Indians in our land, that is, Meghalaya.
In conclusion, let the upcoming generation dedicate itself towards Meghalaya, a state of Pride, Glory, Honesty and Hard work, free from all kinds of Social, Economic and Political vile. Long Live Meghalaya!

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