More than eighty concerned citizens cutting across ages and community from Shillong today met in Don Bosco Youth Centre to deliberate upon the recent incidents of state violence in Mukroh and the non-state violence in Shillong.
The meeting had been initiated by Agnes Kharshiing of CSWO and Angela Rangad of Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) to create and open forum where the angst and anxieties of common citizens regarding fear, security and justice could be shared and discussed.
The meeting resolved to create regular forums for people of various communities to come together to share their anxities and concerns, to actively extend legal support to the victims of hate crime for speedy justice and that border disputes to be resolved by active participation of border residents in the official deliberation.
Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh of KAM Meghalaya outlined the contours of the recent violence and connected it to the rising intolerance in the society. He emphasised that for him being a proud Khasi does not mean ethnic suprematicist attitude but an ability to build bridges with all other communities.
Well-known philanthropist, SK Choudhury rued the breakdown of humanistic relationship that came to fore during Covid-19 pandemic. He also shared the pain and tribulations of long-term non-tribal residents when they face targeted hate crimes.
Angel Wahlang contrasted the ethnically divided contemporary public sphere and more pluralistic childhood she as a Khasi had experienced in Shillong while J Singh reflected upon the constitutional guarantees under the Sixth Schedule and their importance for the indigenous people and how the creators of violence in Shillong are just a fringe element who need to exposed and another citizen from Laban, Phyllis Rani emphasised that peace can only be based on love and mutual understanding.
Roshmi Goswami, noted feminist activist situated the violence in Shillong vis – a – vis the rising culture of impunity that has taken hold of India. Emarilda, a young researcher, shared her findings regarding the breakdown of communitarian values in Khasi society and rise of class inequality that is marginalising the young working population.
Noted journalist, Billy P Domes called for strengthening of education system so that it can respond the challenges of employment and can empower the citizens to question political corruption.
Angela Rangad talked about the rights of minorities and how a society is judged by how safe and secure its minorities feel. “Someone who is a minority in Meghalaya can become a majority outside Meghalaya. So it is important that as citizens we always speak up against the violence and discrimination and hate crime that a minority community may face,” she said.
Wanpynhun Kharsyntiew concluded the meeting by appealing to the citizens of Shillong, both tribals and non tribals to create a new coalition that believes in human rights and justice.
The meeting also condoled the families of the six people who were killed in the firing by Assam Police in Mukroh.