Community leaders of both the Khasi-Jaiñtia and the Hmar tribes have been working non-stop to ensure that the tensions triggered by the threat to the lives of the latter by a group called Hmar People’s Convention-D (HPC-D) does not tip over into a full blown clash.
People spoken to in both communities said that these persons who had started this were basically ‘goons’ and did not represent any tribe.
The main mastermind was alleged to be the chairman of the Barak Valley Hill Tribes Development Council, secretary of the Cachar based Barak Valley Khasi Jaiñtia Welfare Organization (BVKJWO), Charles Rymbai said.
He told Highland Post over the phone that as of 3 pm today some leaders from the Hmar community had called him with the assurance that the people in Athukal village would be safe and nothing untoward would happen to them as things were normalized now. “That was the conversation we had with them and that is the latest position,” he said.
However, he said there was no mention of the ‘threat’ to their lives and property being withdrawn by the HPC-D.
Rymbai said he hoped they would be sensitive to the seriousness of the issue as any negligence and any harm to the people in Athukal would have a wide effect on the peace and harmony and would most definitely affect the neighboring Meghalaya as a whole.
The BVKJWO is preparing a memorandum on the issue to be handed to the District Administration. Rymbai said that so far they had been working together as communities to defuse the situation. But now the time had come to seek the administration’s support as the matter had become public following viral posts in the social media, which is likely to aggravate the issue by fueling unwanted sentiments.
Explaining the genesis of the incident, he said that a few weeks ago three trainees of the HPC-D group had been apprehended and arrested by the Army in the Athukal village. The group blamed the local village folk for this and imposed a fine of about Rs.8 lakh while threatening their lives and property. The Khasi-Pnar came to the BVKJWO for help.
“Realizing the sensitivity of the matter I invited their local leaders who are directly involved with this party. I talked to them and requested them to on behalf of the Khasi-Jaiñtia community please take up this matter very seriously because it is very sensitive, because if anything happens to the Khasi-Pnar people out there it will affect the whole community and the Khasi will not be blamed for this. I talked to them three or four times, I kept calling them, and some of them, the main mastermind leader, we even wrote them an application to take up the matter very seriously,” Rymbai said.
But unfortunately, he only made excuses though he was the main mastermind, Rymbai said.
Matters came to a head recently when the gang turned up again to demand and made a direct threat that they were coming that night. That was when the people decided to leave their home and congregate in the local church for safety. The matter which was till then kept under wraps by the BVKJWO blew up as the local people took photos and videos of their plight to post them on social media.
“When more than 30 families leave their homes it becomes a big thing. This became very complicated now. This immediately flared up the potential of things becoming a communal issue and we have to be very careful now and that is the main reason we now need the district administration to step in and take control,” Rymbai said. He hoped that this problem would be solved.
At the same time, Hmar leaders contacted said that the people who are threatening the Khasi-Jaiñtia village do not represent the tribe and are doing so out of their own interests.
Hmar leaders said HPC-D is divided into three regions, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam.
HPC D in topic is HPC-D, Cachar region, a break away from Assam region.