The Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum (MTDF) has roundly condemned the violence against innocent bystanders in the city on Friday, describing the perpetrators as the “biggest enemies of the people of Meghalaya”.
On the day in question, some participants in a rally that was ostensibly against unemployment wantonly attacked non-tribal bystanders, leaving several people injured and vehicles damaged and which sent shopkeepers rushing to down shutters.
With tourism in Shillong and the wider Meghalaya bouncing back strongly after the Covid-19 pandemic, such disturbances are of great concern to tourism industry players, like those found in the MTDF.
“Such incidents bring about immeasurable damage to our state,” a statement by MTDF chairman Larsing Ming Sawyan said today. “With the advent and progressive evolution of communication and digital technology, we today live in a world of seamless communication and transfer of information. The violence perpetrated on Friday therefore was not only recorded but shared across the state, region and country. Meghalaya and Meghalayans, particularly the indigenous population, have all been painted in very poor light.”
Sawyan, whose family is heavily invested in the hospitality industry that relies on tourism, pointed out that it is ironic that a rally that was meant to be against unemployment ended up damaging the state’s economy and image, which will end up hampering job creation and growth.
The MTDF appreciated the apology from the organisers with regards to the violent behaviour of some of the marchers but it described the attacks as criminal behaviour and called for the state government to apprehend the perpetrators immediately as confidence in the law and order machinery needs to be restored and the public reassured.
“Dissent and protests are healthy for a vibrant democracy but in today’s day and age they need to be done in a manner befitting the modern world we live in. Henceforth, we hope that all NGOs will work towards addressing their issues in a constructive and peaceful manner. The power of dialogue, community solidarity and non-violence is what gave this great nation its independence 75 years ago. Why do we need to resort to archaic methods and activities as a means to address our issues that are now consigned to the back pages of history in most societies worldwide?” Sawyan added.
With travellers still apprehensive about travelling abroad so soon after the pandemic and with visa applications a nuisance, domestic destinations are growing by leaps and bounds and Meghalaya thus has a tremendous opportunity to cash in on tourism that will benefit small and big players, both urban and rural, the MTDF chairman said.