The back and forth over alleged persecution of the non-tribal Hindu population in the Ichamati region shows no sign of abating after five leaders of the Bengali community in the region denied the account of their meeting with officials of Hima Sohra, which had been made public, saying that it had been doctored.
In a press release today, Subash Roy (Chairman, Dharambasti), Bikash Dutta (Secretary, Dharambasti), Naresh Chandra Singha (Secretary, Bholaganj), Phoni Dutta (Secretary, Alubari) and Adhir Das (Chairman, Chaklabosti), said they had been called for a meeting with the Syiem of Sohra on Saturday at his branch office in Majai to find out if there are any problems faced by the non-tribals of these areas.
The five claim that in the meeting they were accused of “secretly holding meetings” with people from outside the state and “conspiring against the tribals to ruin the image of the state.”
Questions were put to them, they say, in a manipulative and scheming way, which confused them and led them to make statements “against the interest of the non-tribals.”
The release also said that the Syiem’s officials “illegally and without our consent” recorded the entire meeting and then doctored the footage to make it look like the non-tribals were in the wrong.
The letter’s signatories denied that Prantush Sarkar, Mridul Das and Binayak Roy, who submitted a memorandum to the Governor earlier this month on alleged persecution of non-tribals Hindus in the area, did so without consultations. In fact the community leaders “requested the three individuals to submit a representation” to the Governor.
In the meeting with the Syiem, the five say they stated that non-tribals are “not allowed to do business and we are not getting trading licences”. They claimed to have written to the Syiem several times regarding the issuance of no-objection certificates (NOCs) but in vain.
The “doctored” video of the meeting has now been made public and is “destroying the image of the non-tribals of these areas and, furthermore, is destroying and defaming the three individuals who went to meet the Governor,” the press release said. “The fact is that we the people of these areas are tortured mentally in such a way that we are exhausted by this indifference of the Syiem of Sohra/President, Secretary of New Majai Local Exporters Forum and thus we requested the three individuals to submit a representation to the Governor, where around 4,000 to 5,000 people signed the memorandum and explained the hardships that we are facing here.”
The video that has been shared in the public domain is “nothing but a way of manipulating the facts and circumstances and situation faced by the non-tribals of Bholaganj-Ichamati areas,” the statement, which had been sent via the email of Sarkar, concluded.