Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Kharlukhi’s first book provides insight into history and politics in Jaintia Hills


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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, Feb 24: Political Development in the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya (1835-1972), a book penned by Rajya Sabha member and former NPP state president, WR Kharlukhi promises to offer an unprecedented look into the political shifts and cultural resilience in the Jaintia Hills region.
The book, which is Kharlukhi’s first attempt at writing, marks the fulfilment of a long-held ambition to document the region’s rich political history over the 19th and 20th centuries.
The book was released by former Vice-Chancellor of Assam University and retired NEHU professor JB Bhattacharjee and former UPSC Chairman and former NEHU Pro-Vice Chancellor David R Syiemlieh, on Saturday.
The book delves into the intricate dynamics of Jaintia-Anglo relations, highlighting the pivotal moment of the Jaintia kingdom’s annexation by British forces in 1835. It scrutinises the subsequent shifts in traditional social and political institutions and their interactions with British authority, with a particular focus on the Anglo-Jaintia resistance movement of the 1860s.
Further, the book sheds light on the burgeoning political and social awareness spurred by external influences, leading to the formation of pivotal social entities such as the Jaintia Durbar. The later chapters detail the concerted efforts of Jaintia leaders and communities advocating for the establishment of a distinct hill state and the creation of an Autonomous District Council within Assam’s broader administrative framework.
The book is an essential read for historians, political scholars, and anyone interested in the intricate tapestry of Northeast India’s political heritage. It serves as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the Jaintia Hills’ communities through centuries of change.
Kharlukhi, who is well versed in the history Jaintia Hills, provides a meticulous examination of the region’s political landscape, tracing its evolution from pre-British times till the formation of Meghalaya. It explores the enduring quest of the Jaintia people to uphold their rights amidst the tides of political and administrative changes brought on by both colonial and post-colonial governance.
“This (the book) is a result of my research work when I was studying in NEHU after my MPhil and when I decided to complete my PhD thesis. Since I hail from Jaintia Hills, my interest lies in the region. My guide happened to be my political mentor and he not only guided me but also introduced me to politics,” Kharlukhi said.
Talking about the book, he said, “It is political, mostly. When we talk about the Hill State Movement, I concentrated on the role of the people from Jaintia Hills areas and at the same time this book also talks about the system of administration in the British period.”
He also informed that in November this year, the North East India Historical session will be held in Jowai and he will present a paper on the concept of democracy in the state’s eastern region.
“During my research, I discovered that election is not a modern system but an old system. During the pre-British period, the Jaintias used to conduct a unique election to elect a Dolloi,” Kharlukhi stated.
He said the candidates used to gather in a playground and their position would be demarcated by a traditional rope. People would queue up in front of the candidate of their choosing and the timing of the election was from dawn to dusk.
Asked about the evolving nature of politics between then and now, he said, “The first election was held in 1937 in Jaintia Hills and that time there was no party politics. The Jaintia Durbar is a social organisation but it controlled the political system in Jaintia Hills. All the candidates belonged to the Jaintia Durbar and they contested as independents and whoever won or lost would continue to remain members of the Durbar. When the Hill State Movement began, the Durbar also got involved politically.”
Asked about his future plans, Kharlukhi said, “I am quitting politics because of this and another study that I am going to conduct is on the electoral behaviour and I do hope after I complete my Parliamentary term, I would be free to concentrate only on writing.”
The book is available for purchase at major bookstores and online commerce platforms.


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