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Rongjeng NGOs, residents resolve to continue protest against bonded warehouse near school

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Biplab Kr Dey

Rongjeng, June 12: Residents of Rongjeng in East Garo Hills have decided to continue their protest over what they alleged was an illegal bonded warehouse that is extremely close to a school in the midst of the village.

A resolution to continue opposition of the bonded warehouse was taken after a meeting in the Rongjeng field this afternoon in a meeting attended by the local NGOs, senior citizens, womenfolk among others despite the scorching heat. About 200 people from the village were in attendance. The meeting was led by the United Christian Peace Forum (UCPF) with support from NGOs which included the GSU, FKJGP, ASWA, AHAM, AOSW, APA, GSMC, AAYF, NGCO and Anti-Corruption.

The main contention of the protestors is the fact that the bonded warehouse along with a wine-store that has contravened the orders of the Court as well as all known laws. The distance between the school and the warehouse, they stated was less than 50 meters and its proximity could have severe repercussions on the student community of the same village.

“Over the past few years, the number of wine-stores in Rongjeng has more than doubled and this warehouse is an added burden on the people. When we held a meeting with the DC earlier, we informed him that we had enough and needed no more. We cannot allow this warehouse to continue so close to an educational institution when the laws itself state so,” informed Mukesh Marak, the president of ASWA.

The NGOs further expressed frustration over the inaction of the district administration as well the excise department who apparently have only held a meeting with them as an afterthought and that too the invitation arrived late.

“On May 15, an order for the temporary closure of the warehouse was provided by the DC but strangely, the very next day, the warehouse began operations. We have gone to the place on multiple occasions asking them to shut down but every time, they just keep hitting us with police cases,” informed Sengjan Arengh, the GSMC president.

Following the meeting, a poster campaign was held by the protesters after which a memorandum was submitted to the DC through the BDO with a resolution taken by those who attended the meeting.

“This is a little weird for all of us as we thought that following our protest and the factual details, the wine-store as well as the warehouse (which are already violating norms) would be shut down but it seems there is a underlying current to allow for these illegalities to take place, contrary to the law. We are really surprised that this drama is being allowed to continue for so long,” felt Mukesh.

For now the NGOs asserted they would continue to fight the menace despite the pressure that was being put on them.

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