A Guwahati-based NGO, the Forum for Indigenous Rights North East India (FIRNEI), has alleged that there is an ongoing ‘Hindu exodus’ from Ichamati, East Khasi Hills, which has been going on with the connivance of state authorities.
The claim has been strongly denied by Director General of Police R Chandranathan when he was contacted by Highland Post, but the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has written to East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police Sylvester Nongtnger seeking his response to the allegations within seven days.
Going by the content on its Twitter feed, FIRNEI appears to be an organisation with right-wing, Hindutva bent and may be backed by the RSS.
Ichamati had been the centre of unrest in the state after the February 28 incident where a member of the Khasi Students Union was killed there by a group of suspected non-Khasi residents.
Since the middle of last month FIRNEI and one Gayatrri Borpatra Gohain began petitioning the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, National Commission for Women and the NCPCR, alleging that there was “institutional harassment” of women and children in Bholaganj, Ichamati (spelt Ichyamati and Icchamati in the complaints), Kalibari and Kalatek villages.
They added that following the February incident there had been “violence targeting the non-tribal population” and “innocent villagers had to face terrible harassment from armed insurgent groups and also from the administration.”
Facing persecution, “350” non-tribal men had largely fled the area, leaving behind women and children who are now facing harassment, the claims went on.
The Meghalaya Police did respond by tweeting, on September 18, “We would like to inform you that statements of people residing at Ichamati were recorded, and they have completely refuted the allegations as alleged by your handle.”
FIRNEI, however, replied with a serious allegation claiming that what is happening in Ichamati is a “textbook case of institutionalised crime with armed insurgents and local administration in cahoots, where favourable confessions are extracted from the victims under duress.” It also later claimed that the state police had appointed an investigating officer to probe the allegations.
Today, the NGO posted a letter, dated September 30, from the NCPCR that directs Nongtnger to submit a report to the child rights body answering “how many children are affected due to this violence”, “who are these groups harassing the children”, “who are these police personnel who are allegedly harassing the children”, “what action has been taken by the police to ensure the safety and security of the children” and “whether any FIR has been registered in this regard”.