Wadagokgre, once the site of an ancient kingdom, is fast turning into a den for unscrupulous squatters, who have over the years taken over most of the land and turned it into their personal quarters. Many sections of the land demarcated by the Archeological Society of India (ASI) are currently being used for farming activities by the same group.
The matter of illegal occupation of the heritage site was raised by the Garoland State Movement Committee (GSMC), who sought action against the illegal occupation as well as the removal of those that have forcibly taken over the ASI site.
Wadagokgre was the location of an ancient civilization in the fourth century AD or even earlier. The site is located in a small, remote hamlet in West Garo Hills. The excavations have so far demonstrated that this site was a sprawling township with Buddhism, Hinduism and amalgamation of the two religions widely practised in this area.
“About 300 families, probably hailing from Assam and neighbouring Bangladesh have illegally intruded into the Wadagokgre archeological site in the aftermath of the recent floods that had inundated the low lying areas of the plains belt. This sudden spurt of encroachment into the historical site has alarmed the indigenous residents, including Nokmas and NGOs,” said Chairman of the GSMC, Nikman Marak.
He added that there are “hundreds if not thousands of illegal migrants” who have taken shelter there over the years and claimed that they do so under the “guise” of being flood victims in order to claim relief by the Meghalaya government. However, even after the floodwaters recede they “never leave” and this is a threat to the fragile demography and environment, he said. Marak also accused them of excavating natural resources for brickwork and stone crushing without prior clearance from the authorities. The GSMC has asked the district administration to deport the illegal settlers at the earliest.