Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Stinging rebuke


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A non-tribal citizen residing in our state, D. Bhattacharjee, has delivered a stinging rebuke to the tribal people of Meghalaya (Shillong Times, Apr 12, 2024). While we go about the routines of our mundane existence, unspeakable crimes are being committed in the name of tribals.
Hardly have I heard a mention of this bloodthirsty murder. We seem oblivious to, or we have become shamelessly insensitive to the minorities that live within our state. All of us tribals are complicit in this ethnic killing, heedless of the plight of the poorest of our society, uncaring of their undignified existence, and averting our eyes even when they are murdered in broad daylight in our neighbourhoods.
There are only feeble murmurs from the government and law enforcement. The church is silent, like the priest in the story of the Good Samaritan, who hid his face in the folds of his cowl and hurried past the fallen man. The clergy of Meghalaya is no better. But what about the rest of us. There is hardly a mention in civil society; academia has seemingly renounced the world, cocooned in their ivory tower.
Meanwhile, every index of human development remains abysmally low in this blighted state of ours. As Bhattacharjee has candidly pointed out, our state is paralyzed on “the lowest rung of education, health care, employment, human rights, sports, basic infrastructure, and other development indices.“
Our self-delusional exceptionalism will come back to haunt us. The country and other state governments are waking up to our lawless misdeeds. The UP government is monitoring the Ichamati murder case, and the Punjab government will intercede on behalf of the Sikhs in Sweepers Colony. Can our lightweight state stand up to enmity with these powerful mainland states?
Given the political dispensation in the country and likely outcome of the general elections, be very sure that a searchlight will soon be cast on Meghalaya, a so-called Christian state. One of these days, these atrocities will be considered as communal killings, murders of innocent Hindus by rampaging Christian mobs. Once a communal colour is ascribed to these atrocities, we will reap the whirlwind.
Yours etc.,
Glenn C. Kharkongor,
Via email

Rule of law absent
After reading the special article “Mindless killing and Khasi society’s response” by Patricia Mukhim (ST 12th April 2024) I have to say that it is rational and the daughter of a mother (Ka khun kynthei ka Kmie) calls a spade a spade. The author has rightly said “that the hotheads should be told that the crores coming here are from taxes paid by ordinary Indians”. She has also correctly pointed out that “Society continues to support violence because there is no organised protest against any or all forms of violence except when it happens to an in-group member”.
“Those who wield the blade shall meet their fate upon its edge”. This ancient wisdom reminds us that actions have consequences. When we choose to use a weapon, whether physical or metaphorical, we must be prepared for the repercussions. The sword, once unsheathed, becomes a double-edged instrument—one that can both defend and destroy. In life’s battles, we must weigh our choices carefully. The power we yield can shape destinies, and the path we tread may lead to triumph or tragedy. So let us wield our swords with honour, knowing that their impact echoes far beyond the clash of steel. And perhaps, in the quiet moments before battle, we can reflect on the wisdom of those who came before us. For they understood that the blade, like life itself, demands respect and discernment.
When faced with a sword, Jesus responded with compassion and wisdom. In the Gospel of Matthew, during the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, one of Jesus’ disciples drew a sword to defend him. Peter the disciple of Jesus impulsively unsheathed his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Jesus swiftly intervened and said to him: “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52, NIV). This moment exemplifies Jesus’ commitment to nonviolence and his understanding that violence begets more violence. He urged his followers to seek peace and love even in the face of danger.
Peace is the need of the hour when our country, a land of diverse cultures and traditions, grapples with increasing political polarisation. The proliferation of fake news and disinformation via social media platforms through fake accounts and bots has fuelled mistrust and division. Echo chambers reinforce pre-existing beliefs, hindering meaningful discourse. Escalating religious intolerance and communal violence have tarnished India’s image. Poisonous rhetoric and ideological clashes have widened chasms within society. Political parties increasingly align along opposing lines, eroding cross-party collaboration. Political polarization threatens India’s religious tolerance and social fabric. Bridging these divides is crucial for maintaining harmony in this culturally diverse nation. In navigating these challenges, India must strive for unity, dialogue, and understanding. Only then can it transcend polarization and uphold its cherished values of tolerance and coexistence. It is good that the custodian of the law is working on leads in the labourer’s murder case and we look forward to taking it to the logical conclusion so as to demonstrate that there is a such a thing called the “rule of law”.
Yours etc.
VK Lyngdoh
Via email
A weak state gets away with blaming “miscreants”
The recent resurgence of racial murders in Meghalaya is truly unfortunate, but far from unprecedented (and not surprising). For most of the state’s existence since its formation in 1972, the atmosphere has generally been one of violence and racial tension; it is the relatively peaceful periods that were aberrations. And be it 1979 or 2024, no matter how the outside world has changed, this characteristic of Meghalaya remains virtually identical: at any time, at any place, an “unknown miscreant,” may murder a non-tribal and suffer no consequences.
I think, at this point, the non-tribals of Meghalaya and the well-meaning (but sadly ineffective) civil society members ought to recalibrate their ideas about the state. No, this is not a place where the rights of all citizens are upheld: no matter what the Constitution or the law say, rules written on paper are irrelevant in front of 45 years of cold, hard evidence that mocks them. No, the vast majority of society does not stand against the groups which murder freely: if they did, these groups would not be so prominent and powerful, and they certainly wouldn’t keep replenishing their ranks (and kill count) over generations and generations.
No, non-tribals are not “equal stakeholders,” in the state: they are simply unfortunate enough to be living here. No, the Church and other entities are not being hypocritical when they stay silent in the light of such incidents: after all, they have never claimed that non-tribal lives have value in the state. Their lack of outrage makes their stance clear, no matter what we may want to believe. And finally, no, the politicians are not to blame for these issues: the ordinary citizens have long made it clear they hold no opposition to such acts (and many, in fact, support them). We should stop using scapegoats and recognize that the cause of this problem is the common citizen, no one else.
Lastly, we should all hope for a future where all non-tribals have left Meghalaya. It will be the best outcome for everyone: the non-tribals will finally experience life in civilized society, the “unknown miscreants,” will no longer be inconvenienced by the offensive sight of “outsiders” existing, and the kind-hearted civil society members will no longer have to exert effort in well-intentioned but ineffective condemnations. It may take a while, but such a future will definitely come to pass, and it will be far better than the present we live in.
Yours etc.,
NK Kehar,


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