Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Ichamati hate crime leads to mudslinging


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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, March 30: The recent incident in Ichamati, a village in East Khasi Hills, has now turned into mudslinging between two sides — the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) and the Coordination and Welfare Committee (CWC) of Shella Bholaganj Block and Adjoining Areas, which was formed to help restore peace and harmony among the various communities of Shella-Bholaganj area.
While the CWC is alleging that the two non-tribals in Ichamati were killed by members of the KSU, the latter has dared the committee to come out with proof that the union is responsible for the deaths at Ichamati.
In a letter to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, the CWC has sought protection for non-tribal communities from “such violent crimes and prevent the continuous attack and nefarious activities by hardliner groups against the non-tribals of the state”.
It also aired concern over the current condition of non-tribal communities in Meghalaya. “The state’s unique tribal-centric laws and regulations, while intended to protect the indigenous tribes, have inadvertently created challenges for non-tribal residents. Several restrictions, rules and laws (apparently applicable only to non-tribals) have made it difficult for non-tribals to settle and invest in the state, limiting their economic opportunities, livelihood, freedom and ultimately life itself,” president of CWC Shella Block, Gopal Dey, said in the letter to the CM.
Dey also flagged the lack of political representation. “The tribal-centric political system in Meghalaya often marginalises non-tribal voices, making it challenging for them to have a meaningful say in decision-making processes that affect their lives,” the letter read.
Moreover, the CWC letter also mentioned the challenge of social discrimination and seclusion faced by these communities.
With regard to the recent Ichamati incident, CWC president Dey has sought immediate arrest of the culprits behind the murder of the two non-tribals — Ishan Singh and Sujit Dutta.
It was also suggested that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the National Investigation Agency (NIA) if the police are unable to nab the perpetrators within a week.
The CWC has also sought the establishment of a permanent security outpost of the CRPF or any paramilitary force’s camp in sensitive areas like Bholaganj and Ichamati.
The KSU, after learning about the allegations against the union, dared the CWC to back its allegations with evidence.
In a statement issued on Saturday, KSU general secretary Donald V Thabah said that the accusation levelled against the union shows that the CWC is misleading people.
The KSU dared CWC president Gopal Dey to confront the KSU face to face with proof and evidences on the union’s involvement in the Ichamati deaths.
The union said that Dey along with others appeared in media reports in 2020 after the KSU launched an anti-CAA movement, wherein several members of the union were allegedly assaulted by non-tribals with weapons leading to the death of KSU member from Sohra, Lurshai Hynniewta.
With regard to the FIR and the CWC letter to the chief minister, the KSU stated that the CWC has levelled several unfounded allegations against the KSU and the tribals of Meghalaya.
On CWC’s resentment over alleged mistreatment and deprivation, the KSU sought no interference with the rules and laws of the Khasis. The KSU has warned the Meghalaya Minority Linguistic Development Forum, which had condemned the killings in Ichamati, against staging a protest in Meghalaya.
BJP for speedy probe
The State BJP on Saturday submitted a memorandum to the chief minister on the Ichamati incident demanding early arrest and speedy investigation.
BJP spokesperson M Kharkrang said that the BJP condemns any form of killing.
It may be mentioned that the BJP was the first political party alongside the VPP to condemn the killing of the two persons in Ichamati, while demanding strong action.


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